Pregnancy test porn: the new way to show the world you're on top of it



So I'm watching "Mad Men". Alone. And on comes the iPhone FaceTime commercial. Part of that series that stars a thumb, and a monologuist projected from an iPhone. "You know that thing we've been working on for a while now?" says the "real" looking beauty to the thumb's rightful owner. "Well..."
If you've already turned away because they look like they need a moment alone, here's the spoiler: They're pregnant! Who are these people and why are they letting us in on the most personal conversation of their lives? Because they're actors selling us a product. But as we know from watching "Mad Men", they're also a reflection of our time. And our time is about sharing your intimate moments with the world. Especially, the good stuff. From sex tapes to vacation photos on Facebook, we've become a nation of public braggarts. And now advertisers--Apple is always at the cutting edge--is following suit with the most private and gloating of moments.

You know this fictional couple has a solid relationship because he answers the phone "Hey Sweetie" (also he answers the phone) and you know this is what they wanted because she says they've been trying for a while. So it's a joyous occasion --but let's not forget what's being sold here. It's not a pregnancy test. It's a lifestyle gadget. And a lifestyle.

Of course they're actors, but the idea of being privy not only to an intimate conversation, but one that naturally is about sex and physical success, is so private it makes you squirm.
A few years back, one pregnancy test campaign featured a couple waiting to receive their results. But unlike the voyeuristic nature of the iPhone ad, these participants acknowledged the camera as if they were making a documentary. It was okay that we were watching, because they seemed aware of us. In two of the spots their results and hopes for a particular result, were more ambiguous. One couple seemed to be struggling with getting pregnant, while another seemed to be unclear how they'd handle a pregnancy. The sentiment was that life isn't easy, but at least this home kit makes it a bit easier.

In contrast, the iPhone spot is jubilant. Problems are solved, the ending is happily ever after and the product has allowed for everyone--even millions of strangers-- to witness it.
Like many ad campaigns these days, it's a concept ripped from the web pages of YouTube. Enter the terms "pregnancy test" in the site's search bar and you'll find a slew of real videos where a woman or a couple are waiting for the results. Here's one.

Watch a few others here. All of the results and reactions I found were positive. You could argue filming the moment you find out you're pregnant isn't unlike filming a birth. But fewer people (reality stars, the exception) would agree to broadcast that intimate moment to millions of strangers. The pregnancy test video is far less graphic and painful and far more enviable.

In a time and in a country where people are struggling to get pregnant, broadcasting your fertility to strangers is akin to updating your Facebook status with constant reminders of successes. It's less for your friends and family--they know what you're up to and more for the benefit of strangers, exes and high school nemeses. In other words, it's a way of feeling successful. Call me old-fashioned but some things should remain private, lest they be used to hawk the latest gadget on the market. Since the spot aired during "Mad Men", consider the spot for the latest gadget in the early 60's, a color TV. It was a cartoon, with a relative of the "hanker for a hunk of cheese" character singing in a cartoon world with a real woman projected in color TV. The ad is just as jubilant as the iPhone spot. But the fantasy aspect is just a tiny bit more direct.