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Filmmakers make mockery of Apple's 'Switch' campaign

Apple's latest conversion commercials have flipped a switch inside some e-filmmakers and stirred up their creative (Apple) juices. Some of these mini-mockumentaries are definitely worth watching -- as long as your boss isn't watching.

Apple's "Switch" campaign has inspired some people to switch the channel. This particular strain of the Macintosh marketing mantra ranks right down there with the iTunes promotion, in which average Joes with below-average pitch sing along to their favorite ditties.

In case you're one of the lucky few who's missed the "Switch" ads: Each commercial features a computer user explaining why he is leaving Windows or Unix (or some other non-Apple environment) for Macintosh. The storyline is set to a jingle that begins to bother long before the ad ends with the line: "My name is [insert name], and I'm a [insert profession]."

The Switch series gained some unexpected attention last summer, when the subject of the first ad, teenager Ellen Feiss, emerged as a minor Internet celebrity. Geeks across the Web took to Feiss because of her slacker-ish manner, the fact that many thought she looked stoned, and her comments about what she judged to be Windows' poor performance. Perhaps not surprisingly, the girl's popularity was strong among PC users, if you judge by the availability of Ellen Feiss wallpaper and icons for Windows.

Feiss' 15 minutes seem to be ending, but Internet denizens have found other ways to mock the Switch campaign -- with short film parodies. Here are a few of our favorites. A warning: If you're at work, you might want to put on your headphones before clicking.

In a promo for switching to the Dark Side, an animated version of the young Anakin Skywalker shows that he has a greater range of expression than Hayden Christensen. Some better lines, too. "My master was jealous," the relatively cheerful cartoon Anakin says. "He was always holding me back. 'Be mindful of the future, but live in the present' -- what the hell does that mean?" (To play, click here, then hit the yellow "watch film" button on the left side of the screen.)

This short film, created by Daniel Johnson, received a prize last month at the Star Wars Fan Film Awards, which are judged in part by an occasional visitor to the Dark Side, George Lucas.

Another desolate fictional place is referenced in a South Park-inspired homage to Apple, in which Tweek talks about the relatively high-pressure nature of the PC compared with the Mac. (Click here to play.)

Meanwhile, the favorite of the open-source community is the film featuring Steve the Supervillian. (Click here.) This takeoff appears to directly ridicule the Apple ad in which a convert speaks approvingly about how simple it is to work with digital images on a Macintosh (and, in doing so, seems to talk a lot about drivers).

In the takeoff, the switcher describes his acts of villainy (which include holding the moon for ransom, among other feats), the importance of computer stability for such endeavors, and the ease of working with Linux: "You have to config it. And then you have to write some shell scripts. Update your RPMs. You have to partition your drives. And patch your kernel. Compile your binaries. Check your version dependencies. Probably do that once or twice. It's just so easy."

The best thing about this particular film is that open-source advocates suspected that it was truly meant to promote Linux -- and they seem to have been right. In an interview with Linux Today, the movie's creator, Chris Hill, said that one of the reasons he made the film was "to improve awareness of Linux." Specifically, Hill wants to see more open-source tools for animators.

So far, no word yet on the motivation behind Hill's other Switch parody, the one that comments on the link between Apple and stylish urban professionals. But then again, is an explanation really needed? (Click here.)

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