Apr 16, 2010
Lesson Plan: Using the Apple 1984 Commercial in the Classroom
The commercial is a fun clip to use in the classroom.
Time allowance: 45 minutes
Teach students how to articulate abstract ideas.
Demonstrate brainstorming techniques
Analyzing multimedia using literary terms
Incorporating quotations into student writing
Note: this is a useful lesson as an introduction or a wrap-up to classes devoted to dystopian literature, like 1984, Brave New World, or The Giver or for teaching Thoreau's Walden, or any film or text focused on the tension between individual will versus societal hegemony.
Start the class off with a quick free write. Have the students write about the following prompt:
What is the difference between being in a group versus being alone?
After the students have had a few minutes to write, ask the class to brainstorm what is the difference between an individual and a group. Whip around the room and share ideas on interactive whiteboard or on class chart board. You can use the example I use to start a class discussion. If I walk into a classroom with a classroom of students dressed in uniform, how do I tell each student apart? What gives us away as individuals when we are in a crowd.
Beware. The discussion will begin to take a life of its own and you as the teacher will have to allow every student to talk. Community expression and individuality is an important topic among teenagers so be ready for some interesting comments from your students.
After you have allowed the students to express their thoughts out loud, use the board to generate a chart of advantages and disadvantages of community living and do the same for individuality. You might want to include a definition of both terms, which you can add to the board. Or, you can have the class come up with a working definition of both concepts.
After you have compiled the list, explain to the class, that many novels and films deal with the tension between community and individual and as a class explain to them that they will begin to analyze some important scenes from literature and film.
At this point, if you want, you can have the students quickly popcorn a list of films and books that possibly illustrate the theme a tension between the two.
Ask the students if they know what apocalyptic literature is or if they know what dystopian literature is. Read a definition from a literary dictionary or other reliable source and explain to the class that there is a genre of literature that deals with the fall of society, the community, and how this affects individuals.
1984 Apple Commercial
Use 1984 as an example. If you want, you can briefly explain the plot, which can be found here. Make sure the students know it is a novel by George Orwell and it is famous for introducing the phrase, "Big Brother is watching." Ask the students if they have ever seen the television show and ask them why they think the show is called by this name.
Explain the background of the 1984 commercial which can be found here. Have the students watch the clip several times, telling them to jot in their notebooks in list form everything they notice about the film: color, sound, tone, mood, dialogue, etc.
Apple Computer, INC produced an ad spot for the 1984 Superbowl to sell their new product, the Macintosh desktop computer. The computer would eventually inspire a long line of desktop computers boasting an easy-to-use GUI (graphic user interface) and the first computer to introduce friendly smiling icons and folders.
The commercial is a visual allusion to George Orwell's classic dystopic novel 1984. The short clip features a Big Brother figure imploring dull, grayed-out workers (played by skin heads) to stick to the status quo. It is hard to follow what he says, but he says something about a "garden of pure ideology" and something about being safe from the pests. It is obvious the drones are like IBM computers. The running gag line is PCs are conformists and Macs are individualists. Midway through the commercial the Mac pest shows up, though, amidst the sound of an alarm, and a team of SWAT men chase her down really cool sci-fi corridors. She wields a hammer which she swings into the screen. The screen explodes and the commercial ends with the words: "On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."
More on Wikipedia
Pass out a handout of at least twenty quotes
You can use the following quotes if you wish, or you can research your own quotes about community.
Students in group of three or four discuss each quote and relate its meaning to the concept of individual and community.
For each quote, students discuss, "Who wrote the quote? How does the thought express individuality or community? What quote(s) resonates with your generation?
Have students write a creative piece on an advertisement that can be used to demonstrate the similarities and differences between abstract ideas. Or, they can write an essay on the 1984 commercial incorporating the quotations.
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