The '90s were a wonderfully odd time for advertising. We had beer-shilling frogs, parents who couldn't understand Bubble Tape and hoards of gangs armed with Nerf weapons prowling screens everywhere. But most importantly, subversive icons of the counterculture could be used to sell cutting-edge technology.
In 2013, the idea of using a psychedelic literary rock star like Hunter S. Thompson in a Mac ad would probably lead to every Helen Lovejoy-inspired* Mommy Blogger in the world to type out a deafening flood of "won't someone think of the children!" themed posts. But this was the mid-'90s, before the world became a giant editorial page, so we got the god of Gonzo on our television screens selling the joys of Apple.
Well, sort of. In keeping with Thompson's legacy, the commercial is an odd psychedelic burst of insanity that only clearly becomes an Apple ad when the logo flashes at the end. It is therefore perfect Hunter S. Thompson.
The author's relationship with Macs wasn't always so sunny. In 2008, Business Insider reported an unconfirmed story about Thompson's troubled start with personal computing. The story goes like this -- in the mid-'80s, the editors at the San Francisco Examiner got sick of receiving Thompson's stories late via traditional mail, so they sent him a Macintosh to work on. Shortly after he received the gift, Thompson reportedly called his editor, screaming that he couldn't get the thing to work. The editor then heard a gun blast. Thompson had blown the Macintosh to pieces with a shotgun. A few weeks later the editor received the pieces of the computer in the mail.
Like most pieces of Thompson folklore, getting confirmation on this story is difficult. Still, in keeping with the stories we can confirm, this one sounds completely plausible. Thank God he'd figured out Macs by the time he shot this ad in the '90s. Windows 95 would have surely lead him to equally creative fits of violence.
*This article originally referred to Maude Flanders instead of Helen Lovejoy. We have updated to correct this mistake and apologize to the Flanders family.
[Image credit: Frank Martin/Associated Press]