"I hate Macs" piece in Guardian

A piece by Charlie Brooker, “I hate Macs,” appears in the Guardian today.

technology.guardian.co.uk/news/s … 32,00.html

According to Wikipedia, Brooker’s humor “tends to be savage and profane, with some surreal elements and a consistent satirical pessimism, stretching occasionally towards outright misanthropy.”

His complaints about the Mac aren’t technical (except for the one-button mouse), but social: Macs are sleek and arrogant, PCs are ramshackle and loveable. Because he’s a TV critic, he attacks the “Get a Mac” ads for their distinctions between cool Mac and dull PC. In Britain, this joke apparently plays (to him, at least) as a matter of class warfare.

Brooker is a jerk (George Orwell he is not), but the reader comments to his story are hilarious. Thought you busy writers might enjoy a look.

I have to say that I love Charlie Brooker’s articles in the Guardian. He writes a misanthropic article called Screen Burn every week in which he slags off just about everybody on TV in a hyperboliçally hilarious way.

That said, this is not his best article, mainly because there is more bile than humour, although I think it is definitely tongue-in-cheek. And he does have a point about the adverts. I’ve raved about the sitcom Peepshow here several times, and he is spot on about the use of its stars for the British Mac vs PC adverts: although they are very funny, the character you tend to sympathise with in all their work is the character used to portray PC. The other character is always a pretentious idiot (albeit a very funny one). Not exactly the image Apple were going for, I’ll bet. Not that the American ads were much better. I always found them cringeworthily patronising, the sort of thing that would make you buy a PC out of spite and haul it past the Apple store whilst flicking the V’s at the black-clad Apple-logo-emblazoned Logan’s Run-esque staff inside. Actually, that’s unfair. I’m just talking about the Tottenham Court Road Apple Store staff here. I recently had cause to go to the store in Bluewater, which was a revelation - the staff were actually friendly, decent and polite. (Okay, so they managed to leave a screw in my iBook after they repaired it, thus causing the logic board that had worked perfectly for nearly three years to fry, but at least they were nice, you know?)

Anyway… Mac vs PC? Who really cares? Some prefer OS X, some prefer Windows, some prefer Linux. Apple is no more perfect than Microsoft at the end of the day; it’s just a shame that anyone thinks the computer you use makes you somehow worthy of shouting at. It would be like me bellowing at some guy in the greasy spoon I frequent: “SCRAMBLED EGGS!!! What sort of pretentious cretin are you? I LIKE MINE FRIED, you c***sucker!” Oops, too much Deadwood.

It just became apparent that he’s not bringing anything particularly new or interesting to the debate. He hates Macs because he’s convinced that everyone who uses it is a pretentious, arrogant, shallow, self-serious asshole in a beret. People have been saying that for, what, 7 years now? It’s never really been true, and it’s certainly not interesting anymore – any more than if I wrote a column for the Guardian about ‘M$’ and ‘Micro$hit’, or the like. The definition of a straw man.

Anyway, if that’s what if the diehards need to do, as Apple gains in prominence and their design principles bear more fruit – let 'em. They do love to see themselves as an oppressed minority, anyway (they have to spin 90% market share into being “the people”, in opposition to some imagined elitist Mac aristocracy, but let 'em).

EDIT: ooh! I forgot ‘Windoze’

My Windows-using wife has (vociferously) pointed out the following:

The Mac vs. Windows debate is ridiculous. OF COURSE Apple makes better software than Microsoft. For many of the same reasons that almost everyone makes better software than Microsoft (the same reason that, if you ask this forum, Scrivener is embarrassingly superior to Word): MS is accommodating 90-some percent of the market – millions and millions and millions of computer users, clicking away on machines made by dozens of different companies. When you’re making anything on that scale, the concept of fine-tuning pretty much goes out the… y’know, Window. Complaining that Windows is not as meticulously crafted as OS X is like complaining that the bus you’re riding to work doesn’t handle as well as your as your BMW. Ya think?

So Apple makes better stuff. And MS makes much, much more money. And MS is not going to sacrifice that money to make a better product – they are always going to make Windows only as good as it has to be. And Apple is never going to be the world’s default OS (Apple fans: would you even want that?), and Steve Jobs is going to continue to annoy many of us by smugly (and falsely) competing against MS for the mass market, when all he really wants to do is* convert those stragglers who aren’t forced to use MS.

There. Now we can all hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

*And, y’know, change the world. But that might just be my beret talking.

It’s pretty much a pseudo-debate anyways. And the fact that they are still playing on people’s idiotic habit of defining their identity by their stuff is a bit old fashioned and certainly not evidence of “think different(ly*)”. In any case if you read Brooker’s own comment, he feels his editors have removed his tongue from his cheek.

I’ve happily owned macs for 23 years - and looking at a PC seriously fucks up my pattern recognition engine. But as for taking any sense of identity at all from being a mac owner - puhleese. It’s an appliance for chrissakes.

BTW The phrase “Logan’s Run-esque staff” strikes me as bang on for here too (not to mention very funny). Every time I go in there I get the feeling our local Jenny Agutter is going to say “look he has creases in the corner of his eyes” before patronizingly asking if I’d tried plugging it in.


*note from pedantic cock**cker

I’m a brand-new Mac owner after umpteen years in Windows-land, and I’ve seen the Mac ads, and they didn’t cause me to run out and buy one. Neither did they cause me to think of the PC actor as sympathetic vs. the Mac actor as pretentious. I guess I didn’t have any difficulty seeing them as representative of the machines. But this makes 2-3 people I’ve run across that seemed to think the Mac guy came across as an ass or something. I don’t get it. :unamused: I just thought they were humorous and well-done ads. Oh well.

OMG, has it been that long? I got my first Mac in 1985. It’s now 2007. Holy crap, I’m old. :slight_smile:

Actually if I do the math it’s more like 22 years and 4 months. Feel younger? Besides, if 50 is the new 30, I’m still in my twenties and on most days that feels about right.

E :slight_smile:

Hey, I look good in my beret. And it matches my sandals and socks.

Booker’s doing what he does best - ranting wildly to get a reaction. A bit like Julie Burchill. He’s very good at it, and I respect him even more for actually making some telly, not just moaning about something that’s really quite hard to do. What really does piss me off though is that his show’s pretty good too. Bastard.

Amusingly, whenever he pans to somebody watching TV on a computer, it’s always on a Mac. :slight_smile: I wouldn’t compare him to Julie Burchill, though - after all, he hasn’t made a career out of divorcing his other half and then slagging said other half off (this goes for Tony Parsons AND Julie Burchill. Brrrr).

dixonge - not sure where you’re from, but the comment was on the UK ads. they are the same as the US ones, but the actors they have used are from a well known British sitcom (excruciating like The Office but funnier), and so they bring with them these preconceptions that aren’t there in the US versions.



I’m from Texas (thank ya kindly) but I have seen ALL the Mac ads, including the Brit ads (at least the ones available online). I just can’t get enough of them. But I am, of course, totally unfamiliar with the Brit actors in those ads. Basically if they aren’t on the big screen or part of the Monty Python troupe we Yanks are rather ignorant. If it wasn’t for public television we’d never see Brit TV.

Which brings up another point - in the past few weeks I seem to have noticed lots of Brits using Macs. Has Apple converted a greater percentage of Brits than Yanks? Or is it just my faulty perception?

Might have something to do with where you live. Up here in Portland, it seems like every other person with a laptop is using some variety of Apple hardware. Perhaps even more than half.

Yeah, Portland is a Mac haven for sure. I’m always a bit surprised when someone pulls out a Dell (or other non-Mac) around here. But I noticed lots of Macs when I lived in New Hampshire as well and New York City before that. And on the Princeton campus, though there were quite a few non-Macs as well.

But never as prevelant as here in Portland. But I won’t get off into another discussion about how great Portland is!

Thanks, Eiron, for making me feel better. Only 22 years and 4 months. Whew! :slight_smile:


There are a fair few Mac users in England (and in Europe in general). Generally, media types tend to use Macs quite a lot. On the popular BBC show Spooks, rather nicely, all of the spies in MI5 use Macs, too. :slight_smile: (Even more nicely, the writer of the next series uses Scrivener. :slight_smile: ) I don’t think that’s a recent thing, though. In fact, most schools in England used to use Macs but sadly have more recently gone over to PCs…

We artsy-fartsies largely use macs, in the UK, Canada, France, the US etc. As for Texas - don’t they ban artsy-fartsies from Texas? Or maybe they just corral 'em all in Austin? :slight_smile:

Austin and the Oak Lawn section of Dallas :smiley:

I see plenty of Macs in Texas at coffee shops but then I live in a medium-sized town with a large university.

Mainly, I was referring to Mac forums online. Lots of Brit participation, IMHO.

It’s interesting how different people react to certain things. To some, a computer is just a machine. To others, it’s practically an adopted child.

Personally, I think the choice between computers and operating systems is a matter of personality. I use Macs because they complement my thinking.

My dad, on the other hand, is almost racist when it comes to computers (computerist?). Talking about computers around him is as bad as bringing up religion and politics. Macintosh practically is a religion to him. Which is kind of funny, since he was a die-hard PC man until a friend of his forced him to spend 1/2 hour on his Mac Classic. Then he went the other way completely.