Apple rejects iPhone app featuring caricatures of politicians; deems Pelosi drawing ‘offensive’

“A conservative filmmaker in Hollywood thought he had developed a worthwhile iPhone app: a telephone directory listing every U.S. senator and congressman, with caricatures of the legislators drawn by an artist,” Gene J. Koprowski reports for FOX News. “But Apple apparently didn’t see the value, and the computer behemoth said a cartoon drawing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was part of the reason why.”

“The filmmaker, Ray Griggs, told FoxNews.com that his small firm, RG Entertainment, received a rejection letter from Apple this week calling the caricatures ‘objectionable.’ He added that he has received several e-mails suggesting that Apple stock owned by Pelosi’s husband may have played a factor in the decision,” Koprowski reports. “Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, when questioned about the application, said ‘this is the first I’ve heard of this.’ He declined to comment further. Apple didn’t return repeated phone calls and e-mails seeking comment for this story. RG has developed other apps for the iPhone that Apple has accepted.”

“The directory’s caricatures feature the drawings of every member of Congress — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike — by freelance artist Tom Richmond, who has drawn for Mad Magazine. The heads of the politicians bobble on the iPhone screen,” Koprowski reports. “The app was developed for young voters who want instant online and telephone access to their senators and congressmen.”

Koprowski reports, “Apple’s rejection letter for Griggs’ app states: ‘Thank you for submitting Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition to the App Store. We’ve reviewed Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures.'”

MacDailyNews Take: So what? Public figures exist to be ridiculed. And the whole point of caricature is meant to depict a person or thing with certain striking characteristics exaggerated in order to create a comic and/or distorted effect in the name of instant recognition. Caricature has a very long and important history in politics, entertainment, literature, etc. It’s an art form, not something that should be banned because some politically correct cretan in a Cupertino cubicle thinks there’s a chance that it might offend somebody somewhere. Newsflash: Somebody somewhere will always be offended no matter what.* Sheesh. Thomas Nast is spinning in his grave right now.

MacDailyNews Note: Read Tom Richmond’s reaction to Apple’s idiotic, ill-conceived rejection via his blog here.

Koprowski continues, “The e-mail was signed by the ‘iPhone Developer Program’ — no name was given — and it included an image of Pelosi that it deemed ‘offensive.’ [Griggs said], ‘These politicians are public figures. No permission is needed to write or comment on them. We have a complete right to do this.'”

“Griggs said he’s received a lot of e-mail alleging that Speaker Pelosi’s husband, Paul, owns $5 million in shares in Apple, and the Washington newspaper Roll Call wrote that the speaker’s spouse owned the shares,” Koprowski reports. “Pelosi’s spokesman would not answer e-mailed questions asking whether her husband still owns the shares, or whether she or her staff or her husband were in contact with Apple regarding the images.”

MacDailyNews Take: So, Griggs received a lot of email. Big deal. As if Pelosi or her husband has a hot line to Apple’s snot-nosed app approval flunkies. Seriously, we’d be shocked if either of The Pelosis even know there is an App Store, much less have a hand in rejecting a once-obscure iPhone app that offers online and telephone access to senators and congressmen alongside their caricatures. Let’s stay at least loosely connected with reality, okay? That said, Griggs is doing the right thing and should keep conjuring up as much publicity as possible. Maybe this one’ll finally prompt Apple to take some meaningful action or at least explain why an app devoted to a helping a cartoon monkey piss into a toilet before the room overflows with pee is fine and dandy for App Store inclusion, but this app is not.

Koprowski reports, “Some think Apple may simply have been acting cautiously. Nationally syndicated columnist and commentator Betsy Hart tells FoxNews.com: ‘I don’t think this is just another case of liberal media bias. While it may start there, surely Apple has witnessed what the Democratic machine in Washington has done or attempted to do as it has muscled into the American banking, auto and energy industries. And that’s not to mention healthcare. If I were the folks at a multibillion dollar corporation like Apple, I wouldn’t want to tick off Nancy Pelosi and her gang either!'”

Read more details in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple blew it. Again. This app features caricatures of all 540 members of Congress, regardless of political party. This app should never have been rejected and whoever’s in charge of the college intern(s) in Apple’s App Store approvals department is clearly incompetent enough to be serving in the U.S. Congress themselves.

This falls into exactly the same category as the “I Am Rich” rejection. Apple should make sure that apps are safe to run on iPhone OS and leave taste, or lack thereof, out of the approval equation. It’s not Apple’s responsibility to “protect” people from downloading apps that may offend the downloaders’ or others’ sensibilities. Frankly, nobody much cares if you’re “offended.” STFU and deal with it; we’re beyond tired of all the whining. Nobody’s entitled to a life free of offense and insult, real or imagined. That’s simply not how this planet and the human race work. Attempting to thwart human nature instead of using it constructively is the root of mankind’s folly. We could’ve used “humankind” there, but we didn’t. And, we’re never changing it. Deal with it.

Apple’s only considerations should be to make sure apps do not harm the device and/or encourage physically harming others, directly or indirectly. That’s why we immediately condemned that despicable “Baby Shaker” app and applauded Apple for nixing it. Of course, it never should have been approved in the first place, but we already knew that Apple’s app approval process had major issues long before that particular SNAFU. (And, by the way,” for those that want to bring up FPS or similarly violent games: A defenseless infant is actually different than an armed soldier. If you’re ever in an actual war, you’re supposed to fight the enemy; if you’re ever holding a real baby, you’re never, ever to shake him or her.)

Members of Congress are public figures and political caricatures are part of the deal that comes with holding public office. The fact that these particular caricatures are so innocuous only highlights the severity of Apple’s App Store approval issues.

We don’t know if Apple’s problem is: (a) the quality of the staff they’ve hired to flip the coins they use to determine app approvals; (b) if said staff is totally overwhelmed; (c) if said “staff” is really just that lone not-so-smart MobileMe launch guy whom the new, more mellow Steve didn’t have the heart to fire; or (e) all of the above, but they really ought to have worked it out by now.

When they wake up, people with brains at Apple are likely going to want to correct this one yesterday. The problem is that yesterday has passed. Another looming App Store PR debacle is all that remains.

MacDailyNews Note: Contact Apple via Web form here.

UPDATE: November 14, 3:03 PM EST: About face! Apple approves iPhone app featuring caricatures of politicians for sale in App Store

*Trust us on that one. You should read our email.

110 Comments

  1. If it wasn’t this app rejection, it would be some other (Baby Shaker, anyone?) getting people riled up.

    They’re caricatures and not supposed to be flattering. Who cares?

    Before passing judgement, I’d like to hear some actual facts instead of the usual shrill finger-pointing BS.

  2. I don’t give a rat’s ass either way. Even if the app were free I still would’t put this directory on my device.

    Why in the fsck would I want to talk to those clowns in congress anyway, they’re all idiots!

    I say let them bash apple, they’ve been bashed by whackos for thirty years.

    What I’m waiting for now is Enderle to come in swinging.

  3. Apple has been pushing the political issues for years…

    California abortion amendment (donating money and support)…
    Global warming support (Al Gore)…
    Pulling out of the Chamber of Commerce…
    Donations to political leaders…
    And many more…

    I am not talking about the rights/wrongs of abortion or global warming etc. I am talking about political agendas. Apple are you becoming another GE? Maybe you can start making wind mill applications for the iPhone.

    Apple, big deal with bobble head iphone app! Get over your agenda and put this app out!

    wmd

  4. Reading the “political” posts on MDN it seems like the most liberal company in the US has a lot of conservative fan boys… Dudes, don’t you know what Apple’s political standpoint has been throughout the years? Picturing some of the square minds here with an Apple MacBook on the local diner is like a Green Peace t-shirt on a tea party. Apple makes the best computers and everybody should use them but you should be aware of the imagery/culture you bought in to, cemented for decades by the hardcore Apple family. Now, you can go and get yourself that Save the Environment t-shirt as well.

  5. Steve Jobs is as liberal as the come. Al Gore, the climate fraud, is on APPL’s board. What do you expect?

    I was considering buying a new iMac for Christmas, but now think why support these libs’ efforts to suppress free speech?

  6. You have to remember that this is being reported by Fox News, so who knows how fabricated all of this is (remember the Tea Bagger protests?). So I wouldn’t even bother reacting to this–the whole thing sounds like a concocted story to me.

    Now, it’s no surprise that MDN would take the bait and report on this, since we know that MDN “pals around” with Rupert Murdoch and his ilk. And of course MDN knows that Obama was not born in this country…

  7. “MacDailyNews Take: So what? Public figures exist to be ridiculed. And the whole point of caricature is meant to depict a person or thing with certain striking characteristics exaggerated in order to create a comic and/or distorted effect in the name of instant recognition. Caricature has a very long and important history in politics, entertainment, literature, etc. It’s an art form, not something that should be banned because some politically correct cretan in a cubicle thinks there’s a chance that it might offend somebody somewhere. Newsflash: Somebody somewhere will always be offended no matter what.* Sheesh. Thomas Nast is spinning in his grave right now.”

    That is way MDN keeps anonymous, so as to avoid ridicule? Although I do agree, this is plain and simply totally against freedom of speech. If you don’t want people to draw caricatures of you, avoid a public office life.

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