This was it. Sitting in front of me was an unopened box containing my new Macbook Pro.
I was terrified. I was excited. I was Luke Skywalker going to the prom. Joan of Arc before her first AC/DC concert. I was this kid.
I could finally say goodbye to my latest hand-me-down computer, a 2005 (!) Apple Powerbook freebie from my friend’s brother. The frustration had been building up and one afternoon I just couldn’t stand it anymore. The wheeze of pain the Powerbook made when trying to load a YouTube video. The ominous heat burning through to my lap that felt like it might just do this at any second.
Was it ever any question that my new computer would be a Mac? Never. Everybody knows we Mac lovers are “special”. We’re cooler than John Hodgeman. We worship an obsessive-compulsive, wildly eccentric, and volatile demi-god with an epic life and tragic death. Most of all, we like to think that we don’t just use an iPhone or an iPod or a iPad, but that they are a part of us, as crucial to the very fiber of our being as mitochondria is to cells.
Our Macs love us, and we love our Macs.
And now, it was time to unbox it. In case you are like me and haven’t bought any new technology since the early naughts, you might not have known that people actually videotape themselves doing this and put it up on Youtube. This is the phenomenon known as ‘unboxing videos’, which began around 2006 and peaked as a trend in 2009.
‘Unboxing videos’ are product porn of the geek variety, consisting of mostly of white males having quiet nerdgasms over slowly unpacking their new gadget and describing each item in depth as they take it out of the box. Think lots of long shots of razors slicing cleanly through cardboard packaging, the slow removing of plastic wrapping, smelling the first waft of a new product as it’s taken out of the box.
Here’s an example of your typical unboxing video:
With the unrolling of the new Macbook Pros and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, a fresh surge of unboxing videos hit the tubes this summer. Of course, now companies are making their own. See Georges St Pierre’s slick unboxing of the Nexus 7 move before defeating some ninjas, although it doesn’t seem as easy for people in real life.
And of course, there’s the inevitable ‘unboxing video” backlash, poking fun at how boring and nerdy these videos can really be. But if you look around, you’ll find all sorts of creativity: unboxing while playing ping-pong, an iPad that unboxes itself, and the unboxing of an Isle of White Blue Cheese package. And then there’s this one, which might just win for most…primal (and just plain bizarre):
As for me, I approve of unboxing videos. In fact, I even made my own!
Yes, they’re somewhat boring and rife with consumerism and only serve to illustrate the fleeting happiness of a new toy or tool while simultaneously making the new owner look like a total goofball. But, dammit, it’s our right as consumers and Americans to document the moment of discovery that beckons back to a childhood Christmas morning. These gadgets are now so much part of our lives that why shouldn’t we capture the exhilaration as if it were the birth of our very own child by making an unboxing video?