What's the Deal With Gadget Destruction Porn?

By Darren Orf on at

At the heart of all gadget porn — those salacious, multi-angle slow-mo shots of smartphones, tablets and smartwatches — lies a strange dichotomy, one of both creation and destruction.

We've all seen the former, watching some tech exec talk about "innovation" and "inspired design," these presentations that then cut to the 90-second
gadget reveal video, which are all eerily similar: insanely close angles, painfully slow pans, metal and gold everywhere, some piano and stuff, and outer space themes for some reason.

It's a form of consumer worship that consistently whips many gadget bloggers to use words like "sexy" and "lust," all followed by photos documenting every inch in as many stunning pixels as possible.

But then, there's another side of it all, a darker side: a kind of confluence of reactionary defiance to gross capitalism and simple "let's blow shit up" entertainment. Within the days, weeks, months following any mega big hardware release, YouTube becomes flooded with copious inventive ways to destroy the internet's collective object of desire.

The way we destroy technology has only become more prevalent and complex— while still delivering that satisfying dose of dopamine to your brain. The absolute best example is the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In the months following Apple's latest iPhone release, this little guy has been through every imaginable hell, including water submersion, 50-caliber rifles, liquid nitrogen, knives and hammers, microwaves, blenders, blow torches, thermite, Molotov cocktails, power drills, turkeys, Tasers, lava lamps, bow and arrows, outer space, and my personal favourite, a tank.

The only thing these videos have in common, besides the target of impending destruction, is that every one has views that number in the millions. These also aren't shaky cam productions. Many of them, like Wired's Battle Damage video series, are actually highly produced and offer the same kind of slow mo ooohhh yeeeaaahhh moments that the same highly produced slow mo techniques tech companies use to hawk their hardware.

What's the Deal With Gadget Destruction Porn?

What's the Deal With Gadget Destruction Porn?

But the idea that so many people revel, retweet, and watch iPhones be completely obliterated speaks to some kind of perverse undercurrent. I mean think about it. The iPhone 6, and any other smartphone for that matter, is the absolute culmination of the human technological endeavour. Fifty years ago, engineers from IBM, Hewlett-Packard, NASA, and DARPA toiled away to create powerful machines that filled entire rooms and and sent humans into space. The phone in your hand far more technologically advanced than those room-sized computers. And we're destroying it in any way imaginable.

But I suspect it's less sinister than just wanting to watch the world burn. More like a defiance of dependence: these personal pocket computers are so ingrained in our everyday life that people actually experience physical and emotional withdrawal when they don't have their smartphone nearby. We resent that. And we fuck shit up.

Or the answer could be just entertainment. But that description seems overly simplistic. The fetishism of our everyday tech lives on two extremes — of worship and annihilation — and we're all willing participants.