Spike Jonze essentially makes two types of commercials. There’s the distraction model, in which a frenetic, unrelated-to-the-product conceit takes over the ad , like his KENZO World commercial from 2016 starring Margaret Qualley and the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion:
In this category, we can put his ad for Levi’s fly weight jeans (like the KENZO World ad, it’s mostly about choreography) as well as that Nissan Frontier commercial that is mostly about a dog pushing a recliner through traffic. Then there are the Spike Jonze ads that would be anti-capitalist if they weren’t ads. See, e.g., his IKEA ad, which made fun of viewers for becoming emotionally attached to products (while simultaneously encouraging them to buy more products):
Or his Gap ad, which harnessed people’s bottled up rage at monotonous chain retail stores (while simultaneously encouraging them to shop at the Gap):
His newest ad for Apple HomePod combines the two forms: it’s a strikingly beautiful short film, in which the Apple HomePod transforms FKA Twigs’ depressing apartment into a rainbow-striped wonderland by choosing exactly the right song at exactly the right time. It also makes owning an Apple HomePod seem supremely depressing and possibly dangerous on an interdimensional level. The conceit of the choreography—Twigs discovers she can expand her world like you’d expand a window on a computer desktop, leaving trails like she’s overloaded the universe’s video card—is as striking as anything Jonze has ever done.
But think about what actually happens in the ad. Twigs struggles through crowded subways, streets, and elevators, to return home to a sad, tiny apartment. Nobody is home but her Apple product, which she asks, seemingly near tears, “Hey, Siri, play me something I’d like.” She then collapses on the couch with what looks like about a pint of vodka (or water, but let’s not kid ourselves) before discovering that she can use her dancing to improve her situation. A small coffee table becomes king-sized, a drab sofa becomes a multi-colored couchstravaganza stretching all the way around her now-gigantic apartment.
Finally, she opens up an impossibly long, rainbow colored hallway that ends in a mirror. As sometimes happens when someone finds a mirror at the end of a psychedelic tunnel, her mirror version invites her to cross the glass, and real Twigs and mirror Twigs do an Annihilation-style dance down the hallway that ends as one spins the other off into the outer darkness. It’s not clear which of the two women this is, but this doesn’t look like a particularly happy outcome for HomePod customers or their mirror-world doppelgangers:
Whoever it is that returns from the HomePod’s psychedelic portal into nothingness, that person or being-from-beyond-time is simply thrilled to collapse into the same couch that depressed the hell out of FKA Twigs before her Apple-inspired break with reality. It’s one of those The Thing-type situations, which I guess is an improvement over the scene at the beginning, in which a woman asks her only companion, a robot that cannot move, to cheer her up. Inspiring!
If you’d like to either reconcile yourself with the cramped apartment that is the best you will ever be able to afford, or be tricked into spending all eternity weeping and gnashing your teeth, depending on what song Siri chooses and how things shake out during your vodka-fueled trip to the Black Lodge, the Apple HomePod retails for $349.