Baby, the Cold War is so back on.
Did you hear? Dour, pale-as-vodka Russian President Vlad "Cold, Humorless Stare" Putin took one look at the war-hungry Bush-pocked American agenda for building a new missile shield and stockpiling fresh arsenals of WMD in eastern Europe (It's to protect us from those scary Iranian nukes! BushCo stammered, obviously lying like dogs), slammed a shot of frozen Stoli and pounded his tiny white fist on the solid mahogany parliament table and said, "We will bury you," just before spontaneously bursting into a glorious shower of silver confetti, pink flower petals and tiny black sparrows.
Wait, I might have that a little bit wrong. I might have torqued my facts a little, my vision slightly askew, though surely you can understand given how right now it's just so easy to become, you know, distracted, just slightly sidetracked, what with so many brutally numbing war stories and then this loud divine humming noise coming from Cupertino and what with this entirely enthralling quadruplet of dangerously beautiful new iPhone commercials now available to the world like sultry Siamese cats wearing shiny necklaces made of chocolate and Ecstasy and porn.
Wait, I might be exaggerating that just a little, too. What can you do?
Ah, but what a distraction it is. Have you heard of the iPhone? Have you heard of, say, oxygen? Duh. Of course you have. Fact is, not only has the entire universe heard of this glorious and eminently distracting gizmo, but anticipation for the damnable thing is apparently running so scaldingly high for its now-official June 29 release date that Apple is rumored to be downplaying the rollout just a bit.
It's true. Apple PR is apparently actually being forced to manage expectations so there's not some sort of titanic weeping backlash when those 3 million iPhones finally hit the streets and everyone goes, Hey, what the hell, you mean it's only a cell phone and an iPod and a Web browser and an e-mail program and a digital camera and an IM client and photo library and a movie player in one gorgeous tiny gizmo the size of a tin of Altoids?
That's it? That's all it does? You mean it does not confer instant transcendental enlightenment? It does not make my skin look younger and more supple? It will not make my wife want to deliver more enthusiastic oral sex or make my kids actually want to speak to me or perhaps get Israel and Palestine to stop hating on each other and it won't help us all numb the savage karmic pain of the fact that our president remains a childish hell-born imbecile? Well, maybe just a little.
Because this, I am hereby forecasting, will be the feeling. This is the sort of hope we put on new goods from Jobs and Co. these days. And why not? Why not allow ourselves the momentary pleasure of presuming that, for one of the few times in our short history, a delightful human gadget might enter the technological food chain and maybe, just maybe, make life just a tiny bit more ... oh, I don't know. Elegant? Sensual? Cohesive? Tactile? There are worse things to imagine, no?
Perhaps you do not believe me. Perhaps you're all "oh, pish posh humbug bulls--" (in which case I doubt you are reading this column right now because you are probably 116 years old, and dead. But never mind that now).
Then perhaps you should just watch the new ads yourself, over at Apple.com and on YouTube and in your florid orgasmic gizmo daydreams, which I admit is a crazy proposition in and of itself as normally I would never encourage anyone to intentionally watch a commercial (except perhaps that one brilliant European ad for condoms), but, hey, it's the iPhone, the most hyped and most anticipated new gadget since The Cone vibrator and the iPod-enabled fireplace and hence if you care at all for modern tech and elegant design and Steve Jobs' godlike aura you simply have to pay attention because it's, like, the law.
The ads are, as you might expect, beguiling, and lucid, and nearly perfect. They do nothing but show the lovely thing in action, up close and entrancing, this little $500 toy doing so much so fluidly with such a graceful and intuitive interface you can only sit back and watch and go, Oh please. Come on. Nothing is that good. Nothing is that easy. Nothing can possibly deliver on such a promise of making my media-soaked life so much more clear and likable and harmonious and peaceful dreamlike juicy happy. Wait, can it?
Here's the thing: Maybe this time such a distraction can be healthy. Maybe this time it's a good form of anticipation, the kind of sheer unadulterated consumerist nirvana that actually lifts you out of this brutal spiritual stasis and allows you a glimpse of a world sans scowls and warmongering and incessant error messages. You think?
Hey, I know how it is. There you are, trying like any good American to be all wary and jaded and depressed for the thousandth time as you read about, say, the bloodiest month on record in Iraq for U.S. war casualties or how Bush has nominated yet another absolutely awful candidate for a high-ranking judicial slot or even the one about Scooter Libby taking the 2.5-years-in-prison bullet for Dick "Waking Nightmare" Cheney, when boom, you see the ad about how the iPhone senses which way it's rotated and the screen adjusts accordingly, and suddenly you're whipped out of your torpid lethargy and spanked back into some sort of shallow but delightful oh-my-God-it's-so-cool happiness.
Really, why not just give in? Why not, in this case, just enjoy it? Yes, the thing's wildly overhyped. Yes, it's just a glorified telephone and, yes, the army of Apple haters is right this minute sharpening their knives in anticipation of slamming every tiny flaw they can find in the iPhone, right along with how much they hate anything Apple does because, you know, who cares about simplicity and grace and thoughtful functionality in modern technology? Right.
It's OK. Let 'em rage. I say let the iPhone divert our collective attention, just for a few precious, suspended moments. Why not? After all, with the iPod as its stunning, groundbreaking predecessor, it's one of the few things -- unlike Putin or Lindsay or even our wayward and war-weary national agenda -- that seems to actually have earned it.
Thoughts for the author? E-mail him. Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle.
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