When I first heard Daft Punk's popular single, "Technologic," I assumed the French duo intended to satirize or critique our contemporary, wasteful attitudes. Over a straightforward marching guitar and bass line, a robotic voice fires commands at us relentlessly.
"Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,Intrigued by the simple, catchy track, I found the associated music video online. The video's concept confirms that Daft Punk intend "Technologic" as a condemnation of our consumptive ways. In the video, a skeletal robot with human gums and teeth watches itself on television. The televised robot delivers the track's "lyrics" from a pulpit-like position in a geometric world dominated by red skies and black mountains. The minimal treatment and the color choices call to mind fascist regimes, making explicit the critique.
Trash it, change it, melt - upgrade it,
Charge it, pawn it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick - erase it,
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax - rename it,
Touch it, bring it, obey it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, stop - format it."
Enter Apple. Once a relatively small company sustained by a devoted minority of computer users, Apple is now an industry Big Boy, thanks to the success of its iPod. The colorful iPod television commercials are by now familiar to most of us living in the United States or Europe. Currently, Apple is using Daft Punk's "Technologic" as the accompanying music for one of these television spots. Watching silhouettes of hip, urban youth dance to a song about disposability, the track no longer critiques; it now celebrates.
iPods are not known for their durability. Distressingly, most iPod owners of several years are working on their second or third unit. Sure, I'm holding on to my old, broken model until I can find a way to recycle its parts safely, but I have a feeling that many people just toss broken iPods into the trash. Not only is such a practice dangerous - iPods, like computers, are filled with toxins and metals that, once leaked, have been linked to environmental problems and human illness - but the very act itself represents a turn towards carelessness. Just as the slob who drops litter on the subway tracks or tosses an empty soda can out the car window accepts less responsibility with each such action, so too does the contemporary consumer of disposable technology. This is precisely the sort of irresponsible behavior Daft Punk highlights with "Technologic," but Apple turns the message on its head, making it a gleeful anthem for those who don't give a shit about anything except their entertainment. I can't help but think of the lyrics to another, more dated pop song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
"With the lights out it’s less dangerousPhoto credit: Top, still from Daft Punk's "Technologic" video; Bottom, still from Apple iPod commercial
Here we are now
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now."