Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hate The Player

So! A day ago, everyone got up in arms about Apple knocking Saga #12 off it's App Store because of a postage-stamp sized gay sex scene. Now, it turns out it wasn't missing from the App Store by Apple specific order but was rather withheld by Comixology themselves for fear of getting slapped around by Apple's silly, arbitrary, draconian censorship policies. So, basically, The Internet got all torches-and-pitchforks furious at Apple for something they were only indirectly responsible for; and now The Internet is supposed to learn a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions or something and feel very, very bad about it's behavior.

Well, I don't feel bad. At all. In fact, I think that the reflexive rush to bring the hammer down on Apple is an incredibly positive development.

Here's the thing: While this time it turned out to be a false alarm; I'm encouraged by the idea that The Internet was ready to pillory Apple at the drop of a hat. Even when they turn out to be not the "villain" in this or that instance, inherent mistrust is always the proper place to start from when dealing with corporations. Not because they're "evil," or because of "capitalism," or because they're run by Freemason Reptoids, but because that's the proper way to approach an entity that exists to exploit you - yes, even when said exploitation is benign or enjoyable to you.

The history of Apple as a modern corporate entity is a history of a company rebranding itself, largely through the efforts of a charismatic leader-figure, as not just a "cool" and "chic" company but a "good" one. Buying - and remaining loyal to the buying of - Apple-brand products (which Apple encouraged through unprecedented focus on proprietary device-linkage) became, perversely, a way of voluntarily branding yourself: "I'm Team Good-Guy Tech!" This was, of course, back when the cultural dynamic in tech was Jobs the Cool Visionary vs. Gates the Creepy Nerd With Too Much Money (what's he spending it on - pocket protectors LOLOLOLOLOL!) rather than Jobs the Socially-Cold Control Freak vs. Gates the Guy Spending Billions Fighting AIDS and World Poverty.

So yeah, while it's unfortunate that incorrect information got mass-reported as news, I find it gratifying as hell to see some real confirmation that Apple's "sainthood" seems to have passed on with Steve Jobs (and, just to be clear, I've got no "personal" beef with the late Mr. Jobs and own many Apple products.) Assuming that Apple was in the wrong here may have been an incorrect assumption (though lets be perfectly clear here: The reason the book wasn't there is still largely owed to Apple's control-freak content policies) but it was a very correct instinct. Apple is a very large, very powerful corporation that has pulled some really, seriously shady shit over the years - including shady shit involving how they manage (read: control and restrict) content producers through the omnipresence of their digital-retail outlets. That you believed Apple had done something that sounded like something Apple would do reflects much worse on Apple than it does on you.

This is, overall, healthy behavior. There's nothing wrong with prefering one product over another, or having a preferred manufacturer, or liking one company's policies more than another, or any of that. But "loyalty" and "trust" are things you should give to people; and in case you slept through the most recent election it's been rather definitively established that corporations are NOT people, my friends. Paradoxically, when you "trust" a corporation, all you're doing is giving them leeway to make themselves less worthy of that trust.

Love the things you love, absolutely. "Love" Apple, if you want. But you should always be keeping one critical, mistrustful eye on corporations - especially the "good" ones. Because Apple doesn't love you back. Neither does Valve. Neither does Nintendo. Neither does Marvel. Neither do any of the "good" companies the tech world likes to canonize with one hand while absurdly declaring EA (bastards, to be sure, but far less "evil" than Monsanto, the Koch Bros, etc) "World's Worst Company."

This is, overall, a good development.