I speak of Apple’s new Christmas ad, that heartwarming bit of forbidden technological fruit represented so beautifully by the byte taken right out of their apple.
“Frankie’s holiday” is a total tear jerker, socially engineered to trigger the feelz, to break your heart with its themes of bullies and outcasts, redemption, love, and tolerance. I almost feel guilty for being such a Grinch about it.
Our teary eyed monster limps through the snow like an old man, wanting nothing more than to share some Christmas cheer from his music box. The entire ad is designed to hit every emotional bliss hit known to man, your maternal instincts, your desire to fight for the underdog, your fears of being cast out, fear of weakness, fear of death, sentimentality. It’s like an emotional roller coaster ride for a feeling addict.
Here’s the deal however, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had a powerful impact on me and the themes she introduced continue to resonate to this day. Let us never lose sight of the fact that our poor, pitiful monster, so falsely maligned, so persecuted by the villagers, was actually an undead thing sewn together with spare body parts and infused with pseudo life by a mad scientist playing God.
He is not human. He is not of God, He is a man made epic tragedy, his creator immoral, evil, and shortsighted. Frankie is like one of our Walking Dead of today, this zombie like creature that may resemble a human but clearly is not. The Walking Dead, as gruesome as that show is, at least has the decency to whack those creatures in the head with a shovel. Apple clearly would just have you inviting the undead in to sing Christmas carols, after doing penance for your shameful lack of acceptance and tolerance.
That’s all well and good when it comes to the human people, well most of them anyway. Love your neighbor, treat them all as if they were made in the image of God. The thing is, we are not talking of human people here, we are talking of the undead, a critter made in a laboratory that violated the laws of nature. Mary Shelley did a good job, she blurred the lines around natural affection, leaving us asking questions. Is he human? Does he possess a soul? Is he capable of natural affection?
What is natural affection? A softness of heart perhaps, some tribal allegiances around empathizing with your own kind, humankind. Love for your own species as we were created, all of us within the human family. That means our loyalties do not lie with the monsters, aliens, and undead things. If we are created in the image of God, than we celebrate ourselves as His creation. We are special, we do not now extend that same distinction to vampires, zombies,and laboratory monsters built by madmen.
Forgive me if that sounds a bit trite, but it must be said in a world filled with so much moral ambiguity our entertainment actually has us falling in love with vampires, werewolves, and zombies, as if the warm-blooded human creatures are somehow inferior and undesirable. Why can’t 75 villagers just welcome the monster in and invite him to sing Home for the Holidays? Aren’t we the real monsters for being so uncharitable?
Take Apple’s heartwarming ad to a whole new level and we must ask ourselves, what are we being prepared for here? What is the social engineering paving the emotional path before us? Where are we going with all this? Cyborgs? Clones? The singularity? Can we not improve on the human condition in a laboratory, perhaps redesign ourselves in a way that is more pleasing…to ourselves? Aren’t computers vastly superior to human beings and shouldn’t we be kind and tolerant towards the undead monsters we ourselves might create? Who would object to such a thing? A bunch of intolerant villages lacking natural affection?
It should not be forgotten that Apple is one of our big techies, one of our alien lizard overlords if you will, who have already managed to successfully merge humankind with our phones, this kind of vulcan mind meld, a singularity all of its own that now has us compelled to walk around zombie-like and plugged in. It really doesn’t take much imagination to predict the next step in our Brave New World, a new and improved human being. Mary Shelley imagined it long ago and only 200 years later we’re actally holding hands with her monster and singing Home for the Holidays.