Tim Cook in Apple’s “Mother Nature” sketch
Apple suspended production of the iPhone 15 because of a clunky five-minute comedy sketch featuring a personified Mother Nature impressed by the company’s environmental work—and it had nothing to do with the event at all.
It would be very interesting to know who wrote Apple’s “Mother Nature” parody because chances are it was written during the Writers Guild of America strike. Leaving aside the question of whether this is entirely legal—a TV show couldn’t do it, but a corporate video presumably could—there’s also the issue that Writers Guild of America members would hopefully have written it better.
Apple typically does a good job of making videos of these events—during COVID, Apple effectively pivoted from livestreams to pre-recorded videos. Forget about the launch devices, the events as a show were immediately remarkable.
You expect professionalism, you expect style, but we’ve all seen enough corporate and technology videos to know that they can be disastrous instead. So Apple should be applauded for becoming such a seamless and instant producer of feature-length advertising.
Apple events are marketing, but they were bad marketing
This is, of course, what these events are, they are advertisements for an enthusiastic public. Apple is very good at selling and knows that there are many ways to do it, but the company still always sells.
Even the opening film this time was about sales. It showed people whose lives were saved thanks to Apple devices, and it was excellent.
You can’t imagine Samsung doing it this way. None of the people shown have connected directly to Apple or the device in question other than to wear or use them.
This kept the film dedicated to the people, and Apple knows that if you make a video well, it lifts the world.
But then there was the Mother Nature sketch. In theory it sounds fine. Instead it was a bomb.
Octavia Spencer as “Mother Nature”
Octavia Spencer plays Mother Nature personified when she comes to Apple. Everyone is afraid of her, but they manage to convince her that Apple is doing great environmentally.
For five minutes we repeated the same thing. It could be about materials one moment and packaging the next, but it was just one joke that went too far.
It was so drawn out that you could see the thoughts behind it. Each element was good on its own, and no one cut anything.
But as a result, each individual element was undermined by repetition. And instead of Apple showing that it was better than just a sell-sell-sell video, the resulting sketch looked like an add-on to the event, akin to drinking technical data from a firehose.
This was also an unnecessary addition since Apple didn’t need to achieve a certain runtime.
To be clear, if this had worked, if it had been written better, there would have been a standout section in the presentation. But that didn’t happen, so it felt like I was in a weird part of the event and it ruined the whole show.
In writing, you will have to kill your pets. You will have to cut scenes and paragraphs, and sometimes entire parts of the work, to make the whole better.
However, Jackson and Cook turned out to be… adequate… in acting. Cook can’t match Octavia Spencer in their confrontation at the end, but few could, and he expressed his concerns well.
He also had to mutter lines that he was “practicing” to say to Mother Nature, but this week a similar joke was made in “Only Murders in the Building.” If Martin Short and Steve Martin had handled the task more naturally, they would actually have had a lot more experience.