Van Halen's sixth album and the first to utilize synthesizers. It was a pivotal album that resulted in an increase in the use of electronic and synthesizer effects in hard rock, something that along with glam rock would lead to the dominance of hair metal in the late 1980s.

Notable also as the last album before David Lee Roth left the band in 1985. Produced the number one single "Jump" as well as the top 15 "I'll Wait" along with equally well-known "Hot for Teacher" and "Panama". Regarded as one of the group's best albums since their 1978 debut.

Track Listing:
  1. 1984 (instrumental)
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I'll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad

The 1956 movie version of Nineteen Eighty-Four had an ending that was different than the book, because of pressure from the CIA.
The agency disregarded Orwell's specific instructions that the story not be altered. In the book, the protagonist, Winston Smith, is entirely defeated by the nightmarish totalitarian regime. In the very last line, Orwell writes of Winston, "He loved Big Brother." In the movie, Winston and his lover, Julia, are gunned down after Winston defiantly shouts: "Down with Big Brother!"

In addition to all the usual Orwellian associations, "1984" was the namesake of the famous television commercial used by Apple Computer to launch the original Macintosh computer system.  The "1984" commercial ran during the third quarter of the Superbowl, January 1984.  

In the commercial, an athletic young woman carrying an Olympic hammer runs down a dark and gloomy auditorium aisle. The vast room is filled with seemingly endless rows of hollow men, monochrome Morlocks in the middle of an indoctrination lecture.  Their eyes are fixated on a huge screen displaying the strident image of Big Brother.

Chased by nasty-looking storm troopers, our heroine spins and hurls her hammer at Big Brother's scowling face on the glowing screen and it explodes in a satisfying epiphany of light and dust.  As the blast blows through the auditorium, and the subjugated masses begin to awaken from their servitude, the screen fades to black and these prophetic words into our vision, accompanied by a voiceover:

On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.  
And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984."  

The "1984" commercial, in conjunction with Apple's official Macintosh launch, was widely acknowledged as the most successful advertising campaign in history.  "1984" was created by the advertising agency Chiat/Day, and directed by Ridley Scott of Blade Runner fame. "1984" was only aired one time1.

For a historical reference, here's the text of Big Brother's speech in the piece:

Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!


1 To view 1984:

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1983 << 1984 >> 1985

Apple's 1984 ad

The Chiat/Day advertising agency commissioned Ridley Scott to direct this 60-second advertisement which aired during the 1984 superbowl game. It heralded the introduction of the Apple Macintosh computer, but never once showed it, and only mentioned it on-screen (text with voiceover) for a few seconds at the end:

On January 24, 1984, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.
And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984."

As the text suggests, the theme of the ad was Orwell's dystopian novel. Drones illuminated by sterile arc-lamp light march in weary step, like convicts, in identical baggy stripeless concentration-camp tunics and pants through plastic tunnels to the sound of a haranguing Big Brother.

The air is smoky, or full of ash, and when the drones emerge from the tunnel they enter a theater whose architecture dwarfs and dehumanizes them. In the theater, we now see on a giant screen Big Brother giving his speech, while serried rows of seated drones stare in hopeless obedience at the screen. All colors are gray, and even the blacks seem washed out: it is a colorless world.

In the background, fighting with the overamplified Big Brother, is what sounds like an alarm klaxon, and we cut to a beautiful young woman athlete running down the corridor leading to the theater, a sledge hammer in hand. She is dressed in a tightly-fitting gymnast's top in brilliant white, bright orange shorts, white athletic wrist bands, white running socks and red running shoes. Her blond hair, skin, and clothing are the brightest colors in the entire ad; she is well-endowed and wears no bra, so that our eyes are drawn (well, men's eyes, but they are the demographic superbowl ads are aimed at) to her chest, where an early, colorful Macintosh icon, a stylized little apple sitting next to an equally stylized Mac box with keyboard, bobs around.

She is being chased by police in riot gear, complete with masks. They carry truncheons, and are only about 50 paces behind the woman. She runs into the theater, and, taking up a position close to the screen with Big Brother, she whirls, launching her hammer into the screen. The only human sound in the commercial aside from the (arguably inhuman) Big Brother's voice is the woman's cry from the effort of launching the hammer. Big Brother's face explodes, sending shockwaves of dust and gas back into the seated drones, who sit dumbstruck (their jaws depicted exaggerratedly dropped) at this rebellious act. Over the dumbstruck faces scrolls the text quoted above. At the end, the old multicolored Apple Computer apple icon flashes briefly.

The scholar Jim Twitchell examined this ad in his worthwhile Twenty Ads that Shook the World, noting quite rightly that Scott's dystopian world is right out of 1920s German expressionist film by directors like Murnau and Lang. He also cogently notes that the Macintosh has as its representative a woman--indeed, one flaunting her secondary sexual characteristics--whereas the drones are either androgynous or male (many of their heads are shaven, and a few have respirator masks over their faces). Big bad old IBM is a bunch of men, and in male fashion impose their rigid logic on you; Apple has flexible, iconoclastic, intuitive power on its side.

The ad did terribly when screened by test audiences, and Apple evidently wanted to axe it (the ad cost $400,000, and the superbowl time cost half a million dollars). Twitchell relates that when the board of directors were about to can the commercial, Woz turned to Jobs and said "I'll pay for half if you pay for the other half." And so the commercial ran.

Twitchell reprints the script of the ad, which Chiat/Day released. Here is Big Brother's speech:

For today, we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history . . . a garden of pure ideology . . . where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

Twitchell, J. 2000. Twenty Ads that Shook the World. (Pp. 184-193.)

The Ad.

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