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The Importance of My MacBook, by Albert Clay

Updated on April 2, 2015

I chose to present the centrality of my MacBook to my existence, showing its importance in my life.

Through various still shots (suitably KenBurnsified through iMovie), screen shots taken of my computer in action (and a few other pictures gleefully plundered from the internet, courtesy of Google), and the song “Recognizer” by Daft Punk from the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, I sought to portray my relationship with my MacBook, in a style similar to that of a movie trailer.

Reasoning

The reason I decided to do this project in the form of a movie trailer emerged organically from the process of creating the video. My initial premise was that I would make this video in an earnest and sincere fashion, but that did not last. In my photo library, I discovered a fair number of moodily lit pictures of the MacBook in question, each shot taken from a different, yet aesthetically pleasing, angle. As I flipped through them, I was reminded of a line from Douglas Adams’ comedic science fiction novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, in which a character thought about a “hundred almost identical photographs of moodily lit tubes of toothpaste.” The odd banality of that image, when I placed it in contrast with the driving and propulsive quality of the track I had chosen, I found to be charmingly incongruous. Upon further consideration, it struck me that this juxtaposition could function to express if not pathos, but bathos instead, as the incongruity could lead to a degree of humor. This reminded me of my throwaway line from my project proposal, that “I have issues with earnestness,” which brought to mind “The Importance of Being Earnest”, which immediately inspired the title of the project, “The Importance of My MacBook,” as a gratuitous bit of literary allusion. Taking into consideration that most movie trailers are about two minutes, I decided to embrace that style, as per Marshall McLuhan’s line “The medium is the message” and do the video overall as close to the style of a movie trailer as I could manage.

Logos, Pathos & Ethos

Logos - Appealing with Reason
Pathos - Emotional appeal
Ethos - Credibility

My decision to do this project in the form of a somewhat snarky movie trailer dictated the logos, pathos, and ethos. The length of the project was directly informed by the moment within the track “Recognizer” at which the crescendo of the piece was reached, which meant that the structure of the film needed to be such that all of the real content needed to conclude at the crescendo. This ensured that the logos needed to be fairly straightforward and linear, given the nature of the medium. The pathos was created due to the juxtaposition of the relatively simple logos of the argument with the bombastic and grandiose tone of the music, creating what I viewed as a charmingly bathetic combination for the pathos, a kind of mockheroic and grand feeling. This combination of the logos and pathos seemed to create an overall ethos of a quietly joking persona lurking behind the production, as exemplified by this still:

All of this was accomplished with relative ease by means of iMovie, which rendered the act of editing the video a far easier task than act of thinking upon how the video should be designed. The technical details were easy to achieve, whilst the artistic details remained far trickier, which meant that iMovie really did facilitate how the concept was executed by minimizing the difficulties.

I was reminded of N. Katherine Hayes’ “Hyper and Deep Attention” regarding the dichotomy between hyper and deep attention in the modern world. While this project itself was the product of deep attention, requiring a considerable number of focused hours to produce, the video itself lends itself to hyperattention, as its longest clip is five seconds long, with an average clip length of 3.5 seconds, with some even shorter clips and moments that might not be noticed without being fully in the mode of hyper attention. This, to me, seems rather indicative of how hyper and deep attention are invaluable and necessary need to coexist. My video, while a relatively simple and short project compared to actual cinema, required a blend of both forms of attention in its creation. Deep focus was necessary to spend the time to create the overarching framework, but hyper attention was also needed to flit through my music and photo libraries to find the perfect pieces of media to illustrate the points I was making. Hyper attention would be required to truly appreciate this video, due to its nature as a piece of fast moving and time limited media.

Neuromancer Movie
Neuromancer Movie | Source

Titling

One problem I had was with regards to the closing statement of the film. I went through at least 5 separate revisions/versions of it. One version was that “My MacBook is only everything to me” (which I scrubbed because it sounded like a bad song lyric). I briefly considered “My MacBook is my silicon soul” purely for the alliterative qualities. Another version was that "My MacBook is my digital avatar" which seemed perfectly fine, except for the problem I perceived with the word "avatar" being tainted by association with the recent film by James Cameron. No, my MacBook is distinctly not a lanky blue alien keenly attuned to nature, thank you. While the word “avatar”, stripped of connotations to blockbuster films, still sort of works to express the function of my Mac, it doesn’t quite have the right meaning, in that my Mac is not a visible iconic stand-in for me (as per the classical computing realm definition of avatar) within the digital realm, but more an interface through which I act. Upon thinking this, I seriously toyed with referencing William Gibson’s Neuromancer and calling my MacBook something like unto the protagonist of that novel’s cyberdeck used to access “Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation” which sounds rather like what the internet might become someday. Then, I came to my senses and realized that this might be too obscure of a pop-culture reference for the intended audience, remembering that Neuromancer itself is older than most of the students in the class. In the end, I settled upon “My MacBook is the digital incarnation of my mind and soul” as the most reasonable compromise, even though I still was not entirely satisfied.

Satisfaction

Overall, I was satisfied with this project, considering this was the first proper video I had ever made. I was somewhat familiar with iMovie prior to the production of this video, so I was able to start from an adequate baseline of proficiency. As it progressed, I was able to draw from my memories of tropes and techniques I had observed through years of exposure to cinema, television, and commercials, and then distill them into achievable outcomes within my own project. I was pleasantly surprised by the reception it received, as I was not quite sure of the tone would quite work, as I was ambivalent about my ability to lead the audience down the path I desired. My only real regret is that I was not able to throw in a Hitchcockian/O’Henryesque twist at the end, perhaps by showing the MacBook’s various deceased predecessors at the end of the credits, but that likely would have exceeded the bounds of the musical track I had chosen and unsatisfactorily compromised the tone. That being said, I am pleased that I was able to execute this project more or less as I envisioned.

The Final Production

About the Author

Whatcom Community College student, Albert Clay, created this video and wrote this reflective analysis for English 101.

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