The Macintosh “1984” ad debuted 27 years ago today
It’s still a brilliant piece of advertising these many years later. I mean, what other ad that only aired once properly are we still talking about today? (True, it helps that it’s probably the most rebroadcast commercials in history, the one that comes up in any discussion of the all-time greatest ads.) And it was right. Not necessarily about Apple liberating us all from the oppression of the totalitarian IBM state oppressing our hearts and minds, but about how computers needed to get personal in order to succeed. It’s odd to even think of this now, but in the early ’80s, most people I knew regarded computers as fearful objects only a few keystrokes away from turning into Colossus: The Forbin Project. That I knew how to work an Apple //e in the fifth grade caused my teachers to regard me as something akin to a warlock.
To enter everyday life computers had to become as user-friendly as those early Macs (or the MacBook I’m writing this on right now.) We had to get comfortable with them, and then with living our lives online and posting all kinds of personal information there to be used by whoever for whatever person, which isn’t the least bit like 1984.
Incidentally, the star of the “1984” commercial, Anya Major, also played Nikita in the music video to Elton John’s 1986 hit of the same name, wherein John tragically cannot consummate his love with the Russian beauty because of the cruel divisions of the Cold War.
The name Dr. Creep probably won’t mean much to most of you reading this. Neither will the name Barry Hobart, Creep’s alter ego who died this weekend at the age of 68. Hobart was a local television fixture when I was growing up in Dayton, OH in the 1970s and ’80s, back when one could still be a local television fixture. Hobart worked for years as the master control operator at WKEF in Dayton, then did double duty as Dr. Creep, a white-faced ghoul most often seen hosting Shock Theatre where he showed horror movies interrupted by comedy bits. That wasn’t really an original ideal. Local horror hosts were common at the time and a few, like Chicago’s Svengoolie are still at it. But he was my horror host, a jovial fellow who showed movies that scared me—and even ridiculous stuff like Trog scared me at the time—then showed up and made it all seem a lot less scary. Oddly enough, Dr. Creep was also a regular on Clubhouse 22, part of another now mostly vanished local TV tradition: the afternoon kids’ variety show. Or maybe that wasn’t that odd. Dr. Creep was never all that threatening, so what if he was supposed to be a vampire or reanimated corpse or whatever it was he was supposed to be?
Shock Theatre ran its course by mid-decade but Dr. Creep remained a local figure, visible for his considerable charity work and fondly remembered by anyone of a certain age. In the late ’90s, a Dayton horror filmmaker named Andrew Copp, with whom I worked for a while at a Dayton movie theater, put Creep back on the air via a public access show, which I always thought was a very kind and cool thing to do. I never saw any of the revived shows, having long left Dayton by then. But I’m glad I was around while Creep was on the air the first time, making it seem pretty welcoming in there with the cobwebs and the tombstones and the things that lurk in the shadows.
Cartoon Brew has the news that animator Rudy Larriva has died. Larriva kicked around the industry for years, traveling from Warner Bros. to Disney to UPA to all the sad television outfits that cropped up after theatrical short animation died in the 1960s. (There’s something sad about a career that begins with “Daffy Duck And The Dinosaur” and ends with “Lazer Tag Academy.”) He was never a household name, but he did animate opening credits to first season of The Twilight Zone, which is not a bad kind of immortality when you think about it.
Intro to Mary’s Incredible Dream, an aired-once-then-forgotten special from 1976. Jaime Weinman posted this video on Twitter the other day now I’m dying to see the rest of it, though I suspect it would be a Star Wars Holiday Special-like torture.