The French philosopher Roland Barthes once proclaimed that in the United States “sex is everywhere, except in sexuality.” Recently, the philosophers at USA Today took a stab at supporting Barthes’ theory, uncovering indisputable evidence that sex can be found in unlikely places including … electronic gadgetry.
In a story titled, “Coolest gadgets exude sex appeal,” Mike Snider summons his inner Barthes to explain the hot-and-heavy world of cell phones, computers, and remote control devises.
“Observe the striking profile of Motorola’s silver-tinged RAZR cellphone,” writes Snider. “Let your eyes linger over the satiny lines of B&W’s 800 Series loudspeakers. And look away — we dare you — from the dramatic, Darth-Vader-like countenance of Alienware’s ALX personal computer.”
“They’ve got the look,” Snider continues, “thanks to hundreds of designers for companies from Apple to Yamaha. All are focused on creating portable devices and home entertainment products that say, ‘Take me home.’”
The pillow talk continues, as Snider introduces us to a woman who once “lusted” over an iPod and to a Motorola executive who, after drooling over a hot, slim cell phone, says, “it really comes down to that emotional engagement.”
Mmmm … emotional engagement … wink, wink.
“Sex appeal has caught on in nearly every category,” adds Snider. “Desktop computer cases can be found in a rainbow of colors. Some remote controls, such as TiVo’s and the Harmony universal remote, evoke the hourglass shape of an Angelina Jolie.”
We like racy stories about electronic gizmos as much as the next guy, but we tend to draw the line at comparisons between a sultry movie star and a remote control.
Next time USA Today weighs in on the zeitgeist of industrial design, perhaps it should try to narrow its focus. After all, attempting to summarize the aesthetic evolution of, say, computers in one story is enough to overheat even the most composed design critic. Throw in television design and phone design, and the next thing you know, your tech writer is having a salacious and embarrassing outburst on the pages of your newspaper.