We Already Arrived Yesterday

Tarva bookletBy now you’ve likely seen the new IKEA commercial for their annual catalog — the one that is a bit of a parody of those smooth Apple product launches to which we’ve all grown so accustomed.If you’ve not seen it, then take a couple moments and watch it here:

What I find so interesting about this commercial is that it highlights what, despite being undetected, is at work in its reference point: all those commercials for e-books and e-readers and tablets and smartphones. For, if you think about it, the technology that goes by the name of book is a pretty amazing thing and it’s tough to improve upon — portable, light-weight, resilient, stackable, etc.. Sure, having hundreds of titles at your finger tips is pretty cool, as is reading in the dark via backlit screens, but your e-reader is pretty useless when the battery dies in an airport, leaving you one of the hundreds of people on your hands and knees searching for an available outlet.

A man in an airport sitting on the ground on his phone and charging his laptopSo, while not wanting to diminish what technology today offers — sure, I have an i-Pad… —  the curious thing is the usually unnoticed effort that goes into convincing us that mere changes are advances with a gravitational force all their own. The IKEA parody works so well because it adopts the language of advancement and demonstrates that, in many ways, we were already there yesterday — and it didn’t require a power cord.

Which brings us all the way back to Slavoj Žižek and “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema,” of course.

Like advertising, then,

Cinema is the ultimate pervert art; It doesn’t give you what you desire; it tells you how to desire.

The IKEA commercial is effective because it adopts the same approach and then let’s you know that you’ve had the object of your desire all along — you may feel hungry, sure, but you’re already full.

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