Apple caught doing the flip-flop: the iSealClub story

It’s been a while since Apple’s made a gaffe I’ve felt like writing about. Of course, that changed when this little gem popped in front of my eyes.

Techcrunch recently published a story about an iPhone game that didn’t pass Apple’s review team. Not that it’s exactly news anymore that Apple is completely arbitrary and capricious with which iPhone apps are officially allowed to be sold and which aren’t, but this sets what I believe to be a new low.

The game in question is iSealClub, a game based on the Canadian Seal Hunt. The core of the game is clubbing seals to death, which may well make a few people uncomfortable.

From the article:

[iSealClub developer Matthew] Smyth emailed Apple before ever writing the app to see if they would find it questionable, and they responded that they didn’t pre-approve apps. So Smyth built it. And yes, it was rejected on the grounds that it contains “content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable.”

How objectionable is violence? So objectionable that Apple has in the past approved many more games for the iPhone that are at least as violent than iSealClub, such as Turkey Hunt, Deer Hunter 3D, Pocket God, and Grand Theft Auto.

This is Apple at its most egregiously hypocritical. This epitomizes everything that is wrong with Apple’s iron-fist rule of the iPhone platform. If Apple itself does not want to sell these under an App Store labeled with its own company name, that’s fine. But in the interest of defending free expression, these should be available from third parties without having to play with fire by jailbreaking one’s iPhone.

I challenge Apple’s PR people to come out and say in as many words that Apple as a company actually does not support free expression when it comes to the iPhone. Apple’s actions already say this; why would they not put their money where their mouth is?

Van Morrison’s folly

The show of course has been over for days, but the issues here will probably persist for some time.

A recent post to the Houston Press Rocks Off blog details Van Morrison’s rather unusually conditioned visit to the greater Houston area (Mitchell Pavillion in The Woodlands). While it is Van’s right to attach as much fine print to his performances as his heart allows, I feel it equally my right (if not my duty) to expose the flaws in his logic.

Point number one:

Rocks Off was informed earlier today that “The Man” is not allowing reviewers or photographers at his shows unless he is in an especially good mood, and let’s just say we’re less than hopeful about that.

This is just crazy. A performer with any confidence in his or her talent should take no issue of this sort with either reviewers or photographers. Are they going to run every ticket holder’s name through the major Web search engines and have everyone sign declarations under penalty of perjury that they will not blog about the show?

Point number two:

A couple of hours ago now, one Van Morrison ticketholder forwarded Rocks Off an email she and other subscribers got in an email blast from the Pavilion with a list of dos and don’ts for Saturday night’s show. Then she posted it on the Internet, releasing it into the public domain.

Besides the stuff that we already knew, like that Morrison will go on at 8 p.m. sharp with no opener, among the other “unique items” the Pavilion informed ticketholders about Saturday’s show is that no “alcohol-related beverages” will be served during Morrison’s performance. The Pavilion will suspend alcohol sales at 7:50 p.m., the same time that Morrison has “requested” that all ticketholders be in their seats.

Translation: “Thank you, Mitchell Pavillion, for letting me, the Great Overlord Van Morrison, perform here. I plan to start my world dom-, er, performance, at 8 o’clock post meridien by official Great Overlord local time, and nobody should be buying beer while I take over the w-, I mean, perform, as that’s a luxury reserved only for Great Overlords like myself. And you mortals need to be in your seats 10 minutes early, because that’s how Great Overlords like myself roll.”

Sheesh. I mean, I admit it, I have a bit of an ego. Humility never came naturally to me and I have always felt like being truly humble was not being myself. But there’s having an ego, and then there’s REALLY HAVING AN EGO. And from the looks of these requests, Van Morrison REALLY HAS AN EGO. Honestly, this is not only needless egotism, but this turns me off to Van Morrison as a fan. It’s enough of an ego to make stars like Madonna look humble, and that’s a lot. I’m not easily offended by ego, but this egregious display of ego does offend me a bit.

So, my dear readers, I ask you: Did anyone go to this show? Does anyone know why he made these bizarre, egotistical requests? Is this something he did only for Houston/The Woodlands? Because the offensiveness of this is eclipsed only by its mysteriousness.