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Does Apple's iPhone ad 'Misunderstood' champion togetherness or alienation?

Categories: Science & Technology

460-apple-misunderstood-kid.jpgThe boy featured in Apple's latest commercial stares at his iPhone - but is actually preparing a video montage for his family. (Apple/YouTube)

A TV advertisement for Apple has sparked a debate about the difference between using technology to celebrate, or retreat from, family interaction during the holidays.

Titled Misunderstood, the short video - which was shot in Edmonton - features a teenage boy spending time with his family for the holidays. Instead of spending quality time with loved ones, though, he sits in the corner, eyes glued to his iPhone. He hands the other kids a carrot for a snowman's nose, without so much as giving them a glance.

The teen later reveals to the family, however, that he has actually been creating the best present ever! He was actually filming them, creating a supercut of the best moments from this holiday. Family members are shocked. They laugh, cheer, tear up and hug. It's a Christmas miracle.

The video, however has sparked a wide-ranging debate. Some say it celebrates technology's ability to connect to those around us, and create lasting memories (for example, in the form of a slickly edited video). The Huffington Post writes that the ad shows that technology, "in the right hands...can be vehicles for creativity, art and even love."

HuffPo commenter Jim Madson said it gives insight into the shy or awkward teenager unable to communicate with those around him. "I have to admit, I choked up the first time I watched this," he writes. "The reason - I was that sullen teenager that loved photography. I was always in the corner taking pictures of my friends and family to remember the moment."

Many others have decried it for promoting an 'iZombie' behaviour where we sit in front of our screens at the expense of others.

"The problem is that while he was creating, he wasn't really living the day, he was a mere voyeur during it.," writes Forbes' Jennifer Rooney. "The message? Life is better through video. Don't live life, tape it."

The New York Post's Kyle Smith says the odds are that many teenagers - and adults for that matter - probably aren't putting together a tear-jerking montage.

"Chances are the kid at your family gathering who is fixated on his iPhone is watching a video or texting peers about how lame you are or playing Candy Crush Saga, not making a movie about his vast love for family," he writes.

And Gizmodo's Brian Barrett levels what might be the strongest condemnation of the video, identifying it as a "Sullen Male Youth" and a family who are, frankly, afraid of him.

Barrett writes of the moment he reveals his video project: "It's a palpable ease of tension, a living-room-sized mylar balloon that pops with a gust of calm. That boy is not a monster, they exult, he's just been creeping."

Naturally, others pointed out that while the boy holds the phone upright, suggesting he is filming in portrait mode, the final video is presented in proper "widescreen" landscape format - an impossibility if the scenes-as-presented are to be believed. YouTube user Andy Nguyen edited the video to show the final product as it would have appeared - horrifically cropped on both sides.

What do you think of Apple's advertisement? Did the teen's video keep him away from his loved ones, or bring them closer together?

Tags: Technology and Science

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