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A look back at when Apple Christmas commercials were still funny


This year, Apple tugged on the heartstrings of people who willfully watch advertising -- seriously, remember when you HAD to watch ads, what a savage world -- with its "Misunderstood" clip. It brought tears to the eyes of many people who want to think the best of teenagers, but had one major flaw. Where were the laughs, guys?

This is Christmas. Sure, it's a time of reflection or whatever, but wishes for peace on Earth need a little good will towards men. And the only good will I'm accepting this year is Holiday Cheer. So let's take a quick look back at some of Apple's funnier Christmas commercials.

We start in 1981 with what basically amounts to a joke-free propaganda film, though we're going to give it up for the line about how crappy Santa was in 1941. Technically, that was the year the Great Depression ended, but Santa hadn't recovered apparently, leading to a lean Christmas. Dick Cavett, a long-running talk show host and TV producer, is probably best known by younger readers for a cameo in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.

We were unable to find any Christmas ads from Apple between 1982 and 1994, but that's okay. This mid-'90s return to form is a doozy of passive-aggressive advertising magic. Apple presents "Your parents trying to figure out Windows instead of just building you a bike, parts one and two."

Apple then took another decade-plus break from humorous holiday ads. Seriously, I'm aware the '90s weren't the best times for the company, but forgetting to celebrate Christmas? Where was the cheer, advertisers?

In 2006, the comedy duo of John Hodgman and Justin Long put aside their bickering for a pretty basic Christmas ad that faithfully recreates the passive-aggressive hell of the normal "Mac or PC is better" holiday debate. Interesting side fact: My brother owns a Surface Pro tablet. We have had more arguments about that at family gatherings with each other than we ever had with our mom about why we don't go to church anymore. Tech brings people together.

Of course, gift giving can drive people apart, and this one from the same year shows.

2007 saw the debut of Apple's Rankin/Bass stop-motion animation tribute holiday commercials. As much as we enjoy the spirit, the absence of Rudolph looms large over this whole ad. I like to imagine he was off somewhere leading a support group for Misfit Toys.

2008 was the last Christmas we were to spend with Hodgman and Long shilling for Mac, and they went out in magical style. Warning: These two ads feature simulated animal abuse and passive-aggressive Christmas tree lighting.

2009 was a terrible year for funny Christmas ads. In the wake of its prior joy, Apple left us just a core of the mirth that had come before, thanks to this silly iPhone ad. I refuse to acknowledge anything as part of Christmas if it doesn't know to shout "FIVE GOLDEN RINGS" as obnoxiously as possible. Did the ad agency that made this ever have a childhood?

Depending on how devoid of Christmas cheer your heart is, this next ad might not make you laugh. 2010 wasn't a gut-buster, but the company was trying. It's not funny "ha ha," but it's certainly got all the makings of a nice, warm holiday giggle, right? You're not a monster, right? Find out below.

We're going to drop the pretenses that Apple is trying to be funny here and just accept that this ad was meant less to make you laugh and more to warm your heart. My only issue is that if Santa used a 2011 version of Siri to help deliver gifts on time, everyone's Christmas would have been ruined. And he couldn't have blamed it on the Grinch; that disaster would 100 percent be on Santa's shoulders. You've had hundreds of years to figure this out with magic, Santa. Stop playing with your phone the one time of year you have to work.

2012 had a real winner with this charming little girl singing to her grandfather, who presumably lives very far away from her. Dear God... what if this little girl lives only a few miles away and is forcing her Grandpa to FaceTime in lieu of actually visiting him? Children can be incredibly inconsiderate this time of year. Also, they're not funny when they're being sweet. This is probably the least funny ad in this article, and that includes the stinker starring Santa and Dick Cavett.

So from TUAW, and Apple fans everywhere, have yourself a very Happy Holiday. We hope this silliness brought you some joy and, barring joy, at least a few laughs.

Also, Apple, bring back the funny Christmas ad. The world is serious enough. We don't need you White Knighting teenagers.

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