I was not aware of this, but the famous 1984 ad for the Apple Macintosh computer was directed by Ridley Scott—and yes, that’s the Ridley Scott, the director of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and a bunch of other films you may have heard of. It seems a bit odd now, but as noted in this Variety story from 2015 he’s actually produced a number of well-known advertisements over the years out of the Ridley Scott Associates production company he founded with his brother Tony in 1968.
Epic recently parodied that famous ad to kick off its campaign against Apple and its iOS App Store, recreating it in Fortnite with Big Brother replaced by Big Brother But With An Apple For a Head. It was a quite a PR move, using Apple’s own words against it—the original ad paralleled IBM’s dominance of the personal computer market with authoritarian control of information in George Orwell’s novel 1984—but it doesn’t seem to have impressed Scott very much.
“I wrote to them because on the one hand I can be fully complemented by the fact they copied [my commercial] shot for shot,” Scott told IGN, confirming that he has seen it. “But pity the message is so ordinary when they could have been talking about democracy or more powerful things… And they didn’t use it.”
“I think the animation was terrific, the idea was terrific, the message was, ‘ehhh’.”
Criticizing the banality of the message strikes me as a little bit strange, given that Scott’s ad repurposed a film adaptation of Orwell’s novel to sell computers. And beyond that, Epic’s case against Apple does have the potential to bring out real change, perhaps not in the basic tenets of democracy, but in the ways that we buy and access our mobile games and apps, which isn’t exactly small potatoes either.
That situation is still very much up in the air at this point—a judge recently granted Epic’s request for a temporary restraining order against Apple’s plan to block access to its Unreal Engine, but allowed the removal of Fortnite from the App Store to stand—but if Epic comes out on top, Apple could be forced to make major changes to its mobile ecosystem. Given the size of its user base, the potential repercussions of a decision in favor of Epic are enormous. The next round in the case in scheduled for September 28.
For those who haven’t seen it, here’s Scott’s original 1984 ad from 1984: