iPad is Deus Ex Machina in ABC's 'Modern Family'
With all the analogies of Steve Job's to God and Moses (see "Steve Jobs & The Ten Commandments,") it was no surprise to me that the iPad product placement would pop up on TV - sort of like the Deus Ex Machina device originated by Aristostle in early Greek theater.
In Latin, the term means "god from the machine," and is a plot device whereby a previously intractable problem is suddenly solved by an implausible god-like solution. Such is the case with the sitcom Modern Family and its recent episode when Phil, the dorky Dad wishes for an iPad on his birthday, April 3, coincidentally on the same day the iPad is to be released to the public.
According to a New York Times review, "some viewers immediately questioned whether they were seeing an awkward instance of product integration, since the iPad is going on sale this weekend. But Apple said Thursday that it doesn’t pay for product placement, indicating that the product was included more naturally into the plot line." Euripides, on the other hand would never be so crass as to have his Greek protagonists sell merchandise. Deus Ex Machina perhaps, better never as low-brow as to actually hawk a product! It would take another 2000 years or so, before man would sink to those depths.
Similar to the Greeks, when you need to please your audience you select a device that folks can relate to in a very big way . While iPad certainly has its shortcomings - see my earlier post "Ten Things To Think About Before Being Sucked Into iPad Fever," you can't beat an Apple product to cause a stir overnight to become an indelible part of our cultural zeitgeist.
It was accomplished with the iMacs, the iPods and the iPhones. The iPad is just the latest Deus Ex Machina device to descend from the heavens - and it just so happens this one will land in our laps April 3, right on time for Easter Sunday. It's amazing how God and Steve Jobs really know how to catch our attention in a collaborative fashion.