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    The Curious Case of Missing iPhone: Does the Villain Have It?

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    Ariz Suban Mar 4, 2020

    As a storyteller, I have a little bit of an insight into the effort that goes in creating stories. Which is why I apologize in advance for the huge, generic spoiler I’m about to drop right now. Ready for it?

    Okay, here it goes: If you’re ever watching a mystery movie and have already singled out a character as your prime suspect, look if they use an iPhone in the movie. If they do, that’s not who you’re looking for.

    How do we know?

    Filmmaker Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper) recently revealed that Apple is very particular about who uses its product on-screen. And villains are not it! So, yeah, I’ll keep an extra close eye on all the shady characters’ smartphones now. Thanks for pointing it out, Rian.

    Knives Out, iPhones In

    Breaking down a scene from his latest murder mystery Knives Out, Rian explains that every character in the scene has an iPhone—except one (not naming them!) who later turns out to be … (drum rolls) … the villain! This led to his joke that, after the revelation, he’ll have to look for something else if he’s planning another murder mystery.

    Is that Jack with a Mac?

    Apple has always been known to be super cautious about their image. And Knives Out isn’t the first time they’ve moderated content. Remember Jack Bauer’s nerve ticking 24? Well, a Wired article from 2002 points out that only the heroes in the show used Macs while villains had to work with Windows (Ouch).

    Recently, Apple has also encouraged producers to moderate content for its streaming service, Apple TV+. Accordingly, the shows are supposed to be more family-friendly, avoiding unnecessary explicit scenes.

    They all do it.

    If you’re thinking that Apple is getting too cautious and protective about its image… well, it probably is. But it’s not the only one! Brands all over the world cross-check the way they’re being portrayed on-screen. An easy example is how not many alcohol companies are okay with being associated with characters who drink or die in car crashes. (Side note: Can anyone tell me what Rahul Jaikar was drinking in Aashiqui 2?) Big guns like Coca-Cola and Mercedes, too, weren’t very pleased with their portrayal in the 2008 Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

    In fact, Coca-Cola was so appalled by how it was depicted in the movie that it got the makers to blacken its brand logo post-production! (Talk about being sporty, huh?)

    All in all, yeah, brands are always pretty particular about what kind of endorsement they want from movies. But not letting villains use an iPhone seems kinda over-the-top to me. What if the villain’s kid wants to talk to their only friend—Siri? What then, Apple? What then?!

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