Because Apple stands up for women and minorities… when it’s financially convenient.
In the weeks following Steve Jobs’ death, there was hope that somehow, Apple’s outrageous pace of technological innovation would continue unabated. Anyone who pored through Water Isaacson’s famous Steve Jobs biography or even watched Ashton Kutcher’s on-screen personification understood the enormous impact one man exerted on Apple’s culture. But critics always pointed to a strong but overshadowed supporting cast, starting with Woz, Jonathan Ive, and Tony Fadell, while dismissing Jobs as an overrated, tyrannical and petulant dictator who hogged all the credit.
Turns out the circle of geniuses needed their furious ringleader, and innovation has now famously halted at Apple. Since Jobs’ death, Apple fanboys have been treated to a phablet iPhone, a watch, a messy streaming music service, and a questionable $3.1 billion purchase of Beats by Dre. But the Apple faithful have also been let down by the morality and soul of Apple, which showed so much promise of materializing after Jobs’ death. Jobs’ Apple was largely bereft of social causes and care; Tim Cook, an openly gay CEO, showed signs of injecting some humanity and sensitivity into the ranks.
The purchase of Beats by Dre, a bloated $3.1 billion boondoggle, may been that ‘jump the shark’ moment at Apple. And in terms of the Apple culture, it carried a poisonous seed. Enter Andre Young, aka Dr. Dre, who was initially lauded as a rap visionary and marketing genius, and who proudly accepted a top executive position at Apple alongside the acquisition. But the past has a way of never going away, especially in the hyper-connected world of today. Critics pointed to Young’s brutal, public beating of MTV host Dee Barnes in the early 1990s in an LA nightclub, an episode that left permanent physical and emotional damage for Barnes as retribution for simply criticizing the group on-air.
Rolling Stone’s Alan Light offered this report in 1991:
According to a statement issued by Barnes, Dre picked her up and “began slamming her face and the right side of her body repeatedly against a wall near the stairway” as his bodyguard held off the crowd. After Dre tried to throw her down the stairs and failed, he began kicking her in the ribs and hands. She escaped and ran into the women’s restroom. Dre followed her and “grabbed her from behind by the hair and proceeded to punch her in the back of the head.” Finally, Dre and his bodyguard ran from the building.
Dre settled the matter out of court, and never apologized. Quite to contrary: Young openly bragged about the incident and rubbed it in. “People talk all this shit, but you know, somebody fucks with me, I’m gonna fuck with them,” Dre declared. “I just did it, you know. Ain’t nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain’t no big thing – I just threw her through a door.”
Other incidents started resurfacing, including accusations from ex-partner Michel’le Toussaint, who claimed that Dre brutally beat her during their tumultuous time together. So badly, in fact, that she required plastic surgery to fully recover.
Layer in a long history of homophobic and misogynistic raps, with songs peppered with slurs like ‘faggot’ and ‘bitch,’ and Tim Cook faced a defining moment to clarify the moral position at Apple. In hateful comment after hateful comment on Digital Music News, readers excoriated us for criticizing Dre’s homophobic and misogynistic lyrics, arguing that Dre is merely an actor on a stage. Now, real situations were proving that this ‘act’ was blurring with reality and violently clashing with Cook’s new culture of acceptance.
We waited. Nothing happened. Everyone was silent, while the media attention intensified. This was going viral, people were demanding answers, this was going to affect Apple’s bottom line. Eventually, Dre was forced to offer a sweeping apology, one that skipped names and blamed youth and alcohol.
Instead of taking a real, difficult stance, Apple supported the apology rather than firing Dre outright (and dealing with messy financial and legal ramifications). Inside Apple, one can only imagine that hope for a culture predicated on equality and zero-tolerance for hate was dashed. This was about money, and this is a company that was now regressing on both technological and humanistic fronts.
Enter Donald Trump, perhaps a convenient punching bag for Apple and an opportunity to cleanse the confusing episodes of the past. According to a Politico report over the weekend, Apple is now boycotting the upcoming Republican National Convention, based on Trump’s record of misogynistic comments and controversial stances against Muslims and Mexicans. “In 2008, Apple donated about $100,000 in MacBooks and other technology to both the Democrats and Republicans. In 2012, they did something similar,” Politico’s senior tech reporter Tony Romm relayed.
“This year, they are not going to do that and it’s specifically because Donald Trump has made such incendiary comments about women, minorities, immigrants and so forth.”
Other tech giants, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, are offering support in the form of hardware and technology, according to the report. The companies typically offer support to both conventions and parties, with Apple only recently bowing out on partisan and political terms.
Of course, this is great for Trump, who sharply criticized Apple for refusing to decrypt its iPhone for FBI authorities in the wake of the San Bernadino attacks. Apple bailing on the convention creates another easy enemy, and opens Apple to obvious attacks of selective morality.
Because when compared to Dr. Dre, Trump is a downright feminist.