Sad proof of how I currently have no life to speak of: I was nearly heartbroken when someone decided to discontinue those commercials where the adorable AOL guy quells potential customers’ anxieties in a verbal volley of reassurances ("Viruses? Zapped! Spam? Blocked!"). Perhaps AOL has finally bit the dust, or can’t afford advertising anymore. Does anyone still use AOL, anyway?
In any case, despite a happy long-term relationship with my boyfriend, I couldn’t help but experience a frisson of excitement every time I saw that cute but geeky guy quelling all fears about the hazards of the Internet. I could relate, since I’m still a bit gun shy when it comes to computers myself.
Fortunately — perhaps just for me — there’s still those Geek Squad commercials. In them, a hapless consumer, usually a damsel in distress, goes ballistic when her computer crashes. But those kind-hearted, dependable geeks will go to any lengths to come to the rescue as quickly as possible.
Like Superman, they are faster than a speeding bullet in their response — gunning it in their little beetle geekmobiles, parachuting down from the skies when necessary, jet packing their way to the rescue when a traffic jam stalls them. Of course these guys really do look like true geeks, but they are still kinda cute — all you’d have to do is maybe buy them a longer pair of pants and get their glasses repaired, or put them in some tight black jeans and boots, and they’d practically be marriage material. After all, to the less than computer savvy, a geek has the power to restore lives to sanity and order once again. They are the closest thing to gods in cyberspace.
I didn't have the same feeling about the “Dude, you’re gettin' a Dell" guy. He was just some clueless, Eddie Haskell-type looking for a party rather than a truly knowledgeable nerd. In fact, I believe the Dell kid was unceremoniously dumped when it was alleged that he had been smoking herb. Party on, Dell dude!
But now, at just about the same time Microsoft’s Bill Gates has decided to, as the Microsoft website attests, "transition out of a day-to-day role in the company," Apple has come out with some ingeniously irresistible commercials. They typify the evolution of the traditional geek into a triumphant neo-geek who actually possesses social skills. Though Gates' phenomenal success may be a metaphor for the revenge of the nerds in the latter decades of the 20th century, Apple seems to have topped them by representing the sexy nerd who can actually get laid.
The commercials feature Mr. PC and Mr. Mac. Mr. PC looks alarmingly similar to, well, a poor man’s Bill Gates — outmoded glasses, cheap looking suit, awkward demeanor. I’m sure that PC is married, and equally sure that even his wife doesn’t find him sexy.
Mr. Mac, on the other hand, is a boyishly handsome, slightly scruffy, laid back guy who likes to have fun above all else. I imagine him being the fantasy of many a young lady who would love to date him, but he seems so casual and elusive, albeit affable and friendly, that I doubt he could be caught easily. He reminds me of — well, of a young Steve Jobs, the charismatic CEO of Apple.
In one spot, PC and Apple are both standing in their packing boxes. PC has his work cut out for him — loading all his software, deleting the software files that came with him, and so on. Mac is ready to do all the cool stuff, right out of the box — make a movie, set up a website, and record a song. Noting that PC has a lot to do before he can do anything, he hops out of his carton and tells PC he’ll catch up with him later.
In another commercial, PC tries to demonstrate how much fun one can have assembling pie charts representing fun things. Apple replies along the lines of “Sweet! I feel like I’m there.” A third spot has Apple modestly bragging that he’s a "PC" as well as a Mac, since he can do all the things a PC does and more.