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The Ipod Army: Pop Culture Apocalypse?

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They’re cute and they’re everywhere, spreading like the fat-faced mid-80’s Cabbage Patch Kid craze. They count a Vertigo-inducing, hip-swiveling Bono among their denizens, a group whose size knows not the boudaries of race, age, or class. I am talking, of course, about the getting-to-be iconic white ear buds of the Ipod; I am talking about the Ipod Army of the Ipod Nation. They are, indeed, everywhere.

The flip side of this growing gang is two-fold:

1. The term “Ipod” is slowly branding itself to act interchangeably with “MP3 Player” à la “Band-Aid” for bandage or “Xerox copy” for photocopy. For an owner of Rio’s 20Gb Karma, it affords me the twin frustrations of red anger and green jealousy (perfect for the holiday time!).

2. The spirit of capitalism gloms onto the “new big thing” like muscle cream to professional athletes. An entire accessory-based industry has started and its life-support is the continued success of the Ipod: speakers, cases, little beds to rest your Ipod in at night.

This Pop Culture Apocalypse brings you to the most ridiculous spawn of this new breed:Ipodmyphoto.com, a company that will take any of your photos and convert it into an Ipod-silhouette ad as easy as Uno! Dos! Tres! Catorce!

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  • JohnnyLunchBox

    I can put my whole cd collection on my iPod, put it on shuffle, and free myself from having to listen to the ever deepening pool of monotonous crap that is being funneled into my ears via these gutless, spineless, and unimaginative fools in commercial radio. I do not want to hear the same 50 songs shuffled over and over again.

  • Keith Sikora

    Just to extend Johnny’s great comment, having a trillion hours of Iggy Pop screaming love into my ears, or Richard Vagner’s giant chords is a trillion hours that I don’t here a little song called “reality”.

  • Hyperbole alert! Hyperbole alter.
    I have owned 5 iPods since they were introduced:
    *A 1G 20GB
    *A 2G 30GB
    *A 3G 40GB
    *a 4G 40GB
    *and a 60GB Photo iPod.

    Yeah, I have a problem. =) The iPod is the greatest invention of the 21st Century. I am such a music fan, and now I can carry almost every one of my CDs in my pocket (9,958 songs and counting). The iPod is that rare device that actually lives up to the hype.

    I almost never hear a radio anymore… i listen to my iPod in the car. I listen to my iPod at work. I listen to my iPod when I at the in-laws’ house.

    iPod, beautiful iPod. =)

  • Adam Bloom

    If you keep randomly bashing the iPod and the people who use it, people are going to start thinking you have some kind of… complex.

  • Eric Olsen

    Jolly, great post! very clever, funny and perceptive. I don’t like anything that requires plugging things into my ears – I find this very disconcerting and alienating from my environment, which I scan continually with all of my senses for possible hostile action.

  • JollyG15

    I-Pod Army,

    In total self-defense, my post was merely a satirical reflection on the mass consumption and almost total market penetetration and saturation of the Ipod. I am merely a Rio Karma devotee overwhelmed by the white ear-bud attack I witness during my morning subway ride.

    Commercial radio is satan’s playground.

    PS. Do your fancy Ipods allow you to do an artist-specific shuffle:-)

  • Fun article on the new zeitgeist.

    I would differentiate the iPod from the Cabbage Patch doll (or Pet Rock, etc.) because it is what the others described: an innovation in technology and music so great as to be nearly revolutionary. The Cabbage Patch doll is… just a doll, I’m afraid.

    About the head-gear: I hate the white ear-bud things, they always fall out. I’m a gray strap over the head (and under the baseball hat) guy: those suckers stay in place at the gym and on the street.

    And unlike Mr. Olsen, I quite enjoy cutting myself off from the environment as it allows me to dwell in the house of my own mind, a rather pleasant place, really.

    Eric Berlin
    Dumpster Bust: Miracles from Mind Trash

  • kyle

    In response to JollyG15 with the Rio Karma, the ipod can do artist, album, and genre-specific shuffles simply by turning on the shuffle option and selecting the artist/album/genre to be shuffled and pressing play.

  • I also love my IPod, but I am in full backlash mode. I threw away the white ear buds in favor of the black sony ones so that I am not recognized by other devotees.

    What do I have in my pocket? It could be a sony walkman tape player for all anyone knows.

  • Craig – why on Earth do you care?

  • earphones? Agreed, they are obnoxious and obsolete. I can’t stand them. I didn’t have the heart to say that to my wife when she bought me an iPod for this Christmas. I have never worn a walkman and never would. not being able to hear your environment is a handicap. But the second box she had me open was a transmitter that clips on top (the Griffin iTrip for you fellow geeks).

    anyhow, I have roughly 400 CDs on mine and am not done yet. I stopped listening to FM radio this summer because Clear Channel made me wanna kill myself. I mean, yeah… Jack Johnson is cool and I am down with Dave Matthews but Clear Channel destroyed those bands for me by overplaying them to death.

    So I did NPR for a six months in my car and at work, but I am back to rocking!

    Now, if y’all really wanna talk about a downside to the iPod… it is the bullshit proprietary iTunes that you have to use for the iPod.

  • Eric Olsen

    very interesting Lono – what does the transmitter do?

  • I too got an iTrip for the holidays. I actually mention a nice bit about the contraption here.

    More recently, I’ve heard that iTrip may not be the best way to go for many situations. For example, a cheap two-ended male connection wire is enough to allow an iPod play through most stereos. And for the car, you can actually use the same tape-and-wire doo-dads that allow you to play CDs via Discman.

    Eric Berlin
    Dumpster Bust: Miracles from Mind Trash

  • “a cheap two-ended male connection wire is enough…”

    hmm – you wouldn’t be trash-talking, would you?

    More to the point, I personally prefer the Belkin Tunecast II – no problems with reception and can tune to any FM freq

  • Aaman — no trash… can’t even really figure out how that could be trashy… then again, I’m still on my first cup of Joe.

    ~ Eric B.

  • Interesting…Apple is being sued over iTunes.

    Apple sued over iTunes

    Jobs plays monopoly, claim

    By Nick Farrell: Thursday 06 January 2005, 09:13
    AN iTunes online music store customer is claiming that the entertainment gear maker Apple is an evil monopolist just like Microsoft.

    Californian Thomas Slattery is suing the Cappercino based outfit for breaking antitrust laws by only allowing iTunes to work with the iPod. He claims the company is illegaly freezing out competitors.

    The suit was filed on Monday in the US District Court in San Jose. Slattery claims that as an iTunes customer he was “forced” to buy an iPod if he wanted to take his music with him.

    Basically his case is that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market. According to court papers he claims that Apple has unlawfully bundled, tied, and leveraged its monopoly in the market for the sale of legal online digital music recordings to thwart competition in the separate market for portable hard drive digital music players, and vice-versa.

    Behind the scenes it appears that Slattery has a bit of an Open Source agenda. He claims that Apple turned an open and interactive standard into an artifice that prevents consumers from using the portable hard drive digital music player of their choice, even where players exist that would otherwise be able to play these music files absent Apple’s actions.

    Slattery points out that Apple has aggressively pursued those who had provided a work-around to Apple’s FairPlay DRM to let songs purchased from other online music stores play on the iPod.

    Last year it also blocked technology from music rival Real Networks that made downloads from its online music store compatible with any other portable media player, including Apple’s.

    The full story of Apple facing the music can be found here:

  • I haven’t ever given the earbuds that much thought. They aren’t the greatest headphones on the planet, but they are extremely portable and I guess that is the point of the iPod experience.

    I listen to my iPod most often at work and I generally hook it up to my computer and listen through a better set of headphones. But on those occasions when I have only the earbuds, they work just fine for me.

    iPod is the greatest. There is no other. =)