A biting parody of tech culture
The iPhone 5 has disappointed some of its users. The maps problems. The camera problems. The fact that, despite Apple's claims of its device's ingenuity, the phone's improvements are incremental rather than revolutionary.
These problems are, in the scheme of things, totally and completely insignificant. Which is a fact that "Saturday Night Live," of all outlets, tried to remind us of this weekend. The skit above -- featuring guest host Christina Applegate -- mocks tech blogs. It mocks myopically spec-driven tech coverage. It mocks Apple users. It mocks Apple manufacturers. It mocks pretty much anyone who would think that maps and cameras and screen sizes are worthwhile subjects of extended conversation. Which is to say, it mocks most of us.
And in that, it is both funny and intensely cringe-inducing. There are the workers' terrible, stereotypical "Chinese" accents, for one thing. And the agonizing employment of an ehru to poke fun at the idea of a small violin. And, above all, the uncomfortable collision of two groups -- producers, consumers -- whose interaction is normally mediated only by an iPhone's silent screen.
This is actually painful to watch. But that's the point -- or, well, part of it. If advanced technologies are indistinguishable from magic, we don't often want our illusions spoiled. We don't often want to be reminded -- or even to know in the first place -- where our gadgets come from. We don't often want to think of personal tech as a product in the full sense of the word. It's this imposed ignorance that 'SNL' is finally making fun of. The real joke here is our preference for tech that is comfortably reified and that has only one story to tell: our own.