The lack of Flash is one reason for the iPad's underwhelming reception in some quarters. The general let down, combined with the what-the-hell-were-they-thinking? name, is generating a wave of Web-based satire that slams the Apple hype with humor.
“When a product comes along that appears so stupid that the ways you can make fun of it are practically endless, it actually becomes magical,” declares an Apple commercial parody posted on CollegeHumor.com last week after Steve Jobs unveiled what he annointed a “truly magical and revolutionary” product.
It's a meta gag fit for a meta medium – and marks the latest example of the Web's growing use as a platform for quick-and-pointed humor. On the Internet, everybody's a comedian.
Pee-wee Herman, who knows a thing or two about being ridiculed, made a video showing the iPad has nothing on his interactive Playhouse pals Magic Screen and Globey – the best use he can find for the device is as a serving tray.
The piece was posted on Funny or Die, which offers several other parodies, including a clever one in which the iPad is simply a pad of paper, and a bit by British prankster Dom Joly (of “Trigger Happy TV” fame) who reprises his rude-guy-screaming-into-giant-cell-phone routine using the iPad.
Of course, nothing is properly skewered these days until Hitler weighs in on YouTube. In the latest installment the (almost) overplayed “Downfall” meme, the ranting Furhrer bemoans everything from the iPad’s perceived lack of functionality to its AT&T association. "I wanted to watch videos of LOLcats while laying on the couch. But no, they won't even give it Flash support!" he cries.
The lampooning isn't all video: one-liners are turning up in Facebook status updates and tweets – The New York Times, in a front-page story about the uproar over the name, noted that iTampon quickly became a Twitter trending topic after the announcement.
Apple has only itself to blame – at least for the name. In 2005, MADtv aired a fake commercial in which two female coworkers discuss a new feminine hygiene product called the iPad that’s connected to what looks a lot like an iPod earbud cord. “Please don’t make us explain how it works,” is the tagline.
The sketch has gone viral on YouTube, and probably will end up being seen by more people on the Internet than in its original TV run. The writers of the skit joked on NPR that they’re looking for residuals from Apple over the name.
“As soon as we heard the name iPad – everyone across the world, that’s where your mind went to,” Bruce McCoy, who co-wrote the sketch with Tami Sagher, told “All Things Considered.”
It’s unclear whether all the jokes will help or hurt iPad sales – the talk is certainly doing wonders for name recognition. In the meantime, the contraption that was supposed to be everything to everybody is being mined for comedy gold.
Check out some of the best videos below (warning: some NSFW material) – before you replace your laptop with a Flash-deprived iPad.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.