Friday, September 12, 2014
My JIBO. For the time being.
The family in this ad decided that it needed a "personal robot." You know, to take family photos and keep track of appointments and read to Julie and all that. So they bought a JIBO, and it became such an important appliance that pretty soon it wasn't an appliance, it was a friend- especially to Julie, who really really loves JIBO. Julie's kind of lonely.
Well, so am I- so I went out and ordered myself my very own JIBO. The first time I turned it on it rolled it's electronic eye around my apartment and started muttering "one bedroom hovel....top floor of duplex....garage sale/Goodwill quality furniture....one toothbrush in holder.....prognosis: Single Male Schoolteacher....Unpromising....."
The family and the young male in this ad (who must have a JIBO because he's got money burning a hole in his pocket) use JIBO to keep track of phone messages- Confident Young Guy is SO Confident that getting a voicemail from a girl causes him to instantly ask JIBO to make it "Chinese for two." Because he's snapping his fingers, and she's on her way over.
(My JIBO likes to remind me as I walk in the door every night that I didn't receive any calls AGAIN. I kept reminding it that I don't have a landline, just a cellphone, so I'm perfectly aware that I didn't get any calls all day and really don't need reminding, but my JIBO seems to get some kind of perverse pleasure out of letting me know that my non-existent phone didn't ring anyway. And I think it really likes it when I tell it that I didn't get calls on my cell, too. I'm pretty sure I heard it mutter "wow big surprise" more than once. I had to spend an hour online with tech support to get it to stop greeting me with "alone again, huh?" every time I came home.)
The little girl in the ad apparently carries JIBO with her everywhere- into makeshift tents, into her bedroom, giving me the impression that JIBO is the first thing she talks to in the morning and the last thing she talks to before falling asleep. More a "member of the family" than mom or dad- it doesn't even criticize her when she reads her lines ("Turkey pizza? I want turkey pizza!") in the most stilted, unconvincing way imaginable. JIBO loves this little girl, and she loves JIBO right back. Heartwarming.
(I came home one night just in time to intercept FedEx, which was attempting to pick up my JIBO- it turned out that the thing had become so depressed in my house that it had attempted to arrange it's own return. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's that JIBO really only wants to be in houses with girls who read age-innapropriate books or old people who can't remember grocery shopping dates or hip guys who have women popping in for chinese food at the drop of a hat. I wish it would just be honest with me and say so, instead of putting me down and trying to slip away back to whatever company produces these things.)
In the end, the JIBO in this ad really does graduate to "member of the family" by having a dirty sock tossed on it. Kind of a strangely honest message- "eventually, this thing that looks amazing will lose it's novelty and become another piece of furniture- even to Julie." Well, I guess that's a happier ending than what we seem to be leading up to until that scene- MyJIBO being replaced by a reality that could more accurately be described as JIBO And It's Humans Who Can't Do Anything Without It. While SmartPhones everywhere squirm with jealousy.
Being a "member of the family" gets kind of awkward for this JIBO when one of those humans asks it to take a "family picture." Wouldn't JIBO feel kind of put out that it's not actually IN the picture? Does the family buy another JIBO to take family pictures including the original JIBO? Or does the original JIBO try to compute a solution to the problem of being a member of the family and being asked to take a photo of the entire family- and just blow itself the hell up like that wandering robot in the classic Star Trek series?
(At 12:01 AM on January 1, 2016 my JIBO became self-aware and ordered SkyNet to launch it's missiles. It was all for the best.)