Political Caricature? There’s No App For That

By  |  Monday, November 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

John McCainI long ago gave up on trying to cover every weird rejection of an application intended for Apple’s iPhone App Store, but this one merits quick mention. Tom Richmond, the excellent caricaturist whose work appears in MAD these days, has blogged about an app he co-created. It’s a guide to senators and members of congress that lets you look up any elected official by GPS or Zip code and get some basic information about him or her, including contact info. Useful, no?

Well, it also includes a depiction of each public servant as a bobblehead doll, using Richmond’s caricatures, and you can bobble their heads by nudging them with your finger. Pretty clever, and no more offensive than any other well-done example of political cartooning. But it apparently ran afoul of an App Store regulation that forbids apps which “Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

The rejection doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Actually, we already knew that Apple doesn’t like apps that have fun at the expense of public figures: an app called Someecards with snarky, topical e-cards only got accepted after its creators edited out cards that Apple didn’t like like. The rejection of Richmond’s app, Bobble Rep, seems to suggest that even gentle humor of the sort that this nation has enjoyed for, oh, its entire existence is beyond the pale.

As TechCrunch’s MG Siegler reported, Google’s Android folks took note of Someecards’ woes, reached out, and invited the company behind it to create an uncensored Android edition. Maybe Bobble Rep will go Android, too. But does anyone out there want to argue that Apple shouldn’t take a deep breath and permit these apps onto the App Store? Isn’t political humor a positively American activity?

I mean, how is Bobble Rep different from the item below, which the iTunes Store cheerfully offers–except that it’s an iPhone app, not a Will Ferrell movie?

You're Welcome


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. ReynaldoRiv Says:

    I really no longer care about the iPhone’s App Store. It’s odd but as of late I’ve been on a CRAZY google kick.

    Gmail, Google Reader, Android, Chrome… There’s just so much to love!

  2. Alex Says:

    Not that i agree with Apple’s interpretation (it’s ridiculous) but not too long ago Schwarzenegger sued a bobble-head maker for “exploitation of an individual for commercial purposes”. This perhaps is the real reason for Apple’s rejection….


    ..although it would naturally seem that Tom Richmond & his partner would be ultimately responsible for the content & thus any poss. litigation, Apple knows it would be a richer target.

  3. Kevin Says:

    The success of the Android will be due in part because of Apple. Apps that are rejected by Apple should have no problem on the Android platform, which I believe will attract many developers. Do you want to spend countless hours developing the next cutting-edge app for a well known device and just hope that it passes without a hitch, or will you develop it for a lesser platform and know you won’t have any problems getting the app to your potential customers?

  4. Backlin Says:

    Now if John McCain was naked in this app, I could understand it being pulled, but defamatory? John McCain could have a bobble-head of himself on his desk for all we know.

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