Not So Fuzzy Feelings About ‘Fuzzy Feelings’

I wasn’t going to say anything about Apple’s traditional holiday short, but after reading Andy Ihnatko’s dissection of it on Six Colors, I realized I wasn’t the only one put off by it. They’re usually heartwarming, heartfelt, and sweet, but this year’s short fell, well, short for me this year. Andy did a great job summing up the myriad of things that felt off about it. You should go read his whole post, but I’ll call out a few points that stuck out to me as well.

The protagonist’s revenge stop-motion film seemed over the top for the grievances her boss performed against her:

How many weeks did it take her to complete just one of those humiliating scenes? She designed and constructed dolls, props, and sets; she invested lots of money and ingenuity in doing the lighting and rigging; she animated each shot one painsaking frame at a time; and then did all of the editing.

You must agree with me that this is an utterly psychopathic amount of work. It’s very correct to witness this behavior and then fear for that man’s safety out in the real world.

One of those grievances”:

I’ll also point out that one of the little things the boss did that annoyed and angered her was that he noticed that she was very late for work. He communicated his disappointment in a quick, low-key way that drew no attention from the rest of the office. Close examination of the previous scene reveals why she was late that morning: she’d gotten so wrapped up in her whole Torture My Boss By Wooly Proxy project that she’d lost all track of time.

And then, her empathy was far too forthcoming for the supposedly deep-seated dislike she held for him, just because he (wishy-washingly) handed her a handmade gift (that he also gave to the rest of the office), and then she saw him eating alone.

It just felt like too little for her to completely change her mind about the man, after she had clearly spent weeks (months?) imagining his painful humiliation. Andy seems to have felt the same way:

So when the lady in the Fuzzy Feelings” video exercises her empathy only conditionally, after she comes to pity her boss (itself a form of dehumanization), it comes across as… well, not wrong, but definitely odd.

A real gem in Andy’s piece is this declaration about human empathy:

Well, whatever. Empathy is the point of today’s sermon. Empathy requires each of us to never ever forget that we should treat fellow humans like human beings and not human-shaped objects. No exceptions and no excuses.

Simple? Oh, sure. But holy cats, it’s hard to get a consistent grip on the thing, isn’t it? It’s easier to know that we’ve misplaced our empathy than it is to be sure of what we should do with it.

So good that I copied it to my quote journal!

But I don’t really buy Andy’s theory that the protagonist’s capacity for empathy is influenced by the fact she she uses Windows at work and Apple products at home:

So maybe the lady’s capacity for empathy is intact… but her ability to access it is influenced by her environments. When she’s in the office and her boss gives her a gentle rebuke for a legit HR infraction, her proximity to a Microsoft operating system influences her to choose a path of (needle-felted stop-motion) violence.

That’s a little too grasping at straws” for me, but the manufacturer of her work tools was an interesting detail that I hadn’t noticed.

Apple’s had a good run of theses warm and fuzzy holiday shorts. I’m not faulting them too hard for one flop out of many years. I guess I’m just a little surprised that literally the fuzziest one of all didn’t land so well.


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