iPod's Silhouette by shimeiyan


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Daniel Walter

Ms. Leasum

English 105

March 5, 2007

                                     iPod’s Silhouette

       A black silhouette in front of a bright background, moving, dancing, having fun,

yet essentially separated from the rest of the world, at least by means of oral

communication. The dancer has ear-plugs in, ear-plugs that pipe non-stop music directly

into their ears, ear-plugs that effectively drown out all other noises. From Johannes

Sebastian Bach to Sebastian Bach, the music is able to dominate the listener’s mind by

negating all other audile perception. Through strategic use of form and design, the ad

glamorizes the situation, making it seem enjoyable and desirable.

       With the “Silhouette” series of ads, Apple tries to sell the idea that iPods enhance

your life with music and energy. Using bright colors, modern styling, and implied

motion, the advertisements create a hip feeling, with the suggestion of cutting edge

technology. Any age can be reached by iPod’s ad, from baby-boomers trying to

recapture youth to the young wanting to feel energized and hip. One’s first impression is

that the person in the advertisement is enjoying himself, an impression Apple hopes to fix

in the viewer’s mind.

       The reality is that people wearing iPods rarely, if ever, dance to their music; nor

do they even express the faintest hint of a smile. Most of those plugged into their iPods

exhibit stoic, expressionless faces that move only during the chance event that they notice

an acquaintance. Their walk is not energized or enlivened by the music; their posture is
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not more relaxed or comfortable; they do not appear happier. These qualities and

enhancements, however, are those portrayed in the advertisements; these are why the

consumer chose to purchase the product. What does one actually obtain when they plug

in their iPod?


          Individuals wearing iPod are essentially alone. The music, originating inside of

their ears, negates one of their primary senses: hearing. Of course they can still see, but

sight without hearing leaves them in stuck in a silent movie; or rather, one with another

movie’s soundtrack. They do not hear birds, the sound of other’s conversations, or their

own footfalls. Most of all, barring situations involving those who have advanced

knowledge of sign language, they do not socialize; at least not without difficulty or


          iPods promote antisocial behavior, isolating the listener in a world only they can

hear. Certainly they can remove their ear-plugs and talk to someone, but as often as not it

is easier to simply smile, wave, and continue on with the music. The use of an iPod gives

the listener an incentive not to socialize, as it is becomes a nuisance rather than an easy

exchange. Furthermore, the seclusion provided by an iPod provides the listener with a

sense of remoteness; they are in their own reality and can only see, not hear, the reality of


          Beyond mere changes to the mindset of the user, use of an iPod can deter others

from initiating social interaction. When encountering an individual using an iPod, one

must decide whether it is polite to pursue interaction that requires removal of the

earpieces. Of course, this can initiate an internal conflict as to whether or not the
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intended conversation will be worth the time of the iPod user. After all, they are wearing

their earpieces for a reason. This frequently results in the aforementioned smile and

wave, with no appreciable socializing taking place.

        The addition of “aSocial” to this ad is intended to highlight the display of

antisocial behavior commonly observed with individuals using iPods. Graphically, the

addition is meant to flow with the style of the advertisement, as this creates a more

powerful message than a one that overtly stands out. The “a” and “S” at the beginning of

“aSocial” are formatted the way they are to match the capitalization scheme used in

“iPod”, therefore more closely matching what the reader expects.

        Much of the styling already used by Apple is appropriate with this new message

when considered in the new context. The person, for example, is a mere silhouette,

instead of a fully-detailed figure. Originally, this was intended to give the ad a fresh,

eye-catching look, and to that end they are successful. In the new context, however, this

correlates conveniently with the aforementioned idea that those using iPods are shadows

of their normal selves, as they are cut off by means of verbal communication.

Furthermore, given the antisocial behavior displayed by some iPod users, perhaps have

them alone in the picture is all too fitting.

        The trendy, active life promised in these advertisements is merely an illusion used

by Apple to enhance the image of their products. In reality, this is not the lifestyle on

buys along with an iPod. Rather, they gain an excuse, even a motivation, for antisocial,

detached behavior. The iPod serves to distance them from reality, far from the energetic,

enjoyable lifestyle implied in the ads.

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