The news: Waiting hours or days in line for a new iPhone may seem fun or exciting to some people; the camaraderie, the giddiness and the novelty make it seem like an Apple fan's version of the night before Christmas. Filmmaker Casey Neistat, however, feels differently, and his latest video has arrived to blow that pipe dream to bits.
The short film, titled "iPhone 6 Lines and the Chinese mafia," suggests that many who spend days waiting in line do it with the sole intention of reselling the already pricey phone on the black market in China.
The scenes Neistat captured certainly make that conceit seem plausible: When Neistat's translator asks the line-sitters for whom they're buying the phone, the answer is always for themselves or their loved ones. But after making their purchase, in cash and often in sets of two, they immediately walk a block away and exchange the loot for a wad of cash.
Neistat's suggestion of a mafia connection — at least in the way it's presented on film — is dubious at best, as he never shows clear evidence of such a relationship. But as the Verge points out, it's not that improbable. The iPhone 6's release has been delayed in China, leaving thousands clamoring to get ahold of it any way they can. Quartz reports that retailers are selling the gold 128 GB iPhone 6 Plus for about $2,580, more than double its manufacturer's suggested retail price.
Regardless of the mafia connection or Neistat's intentions (he has disparaged line-sitters before), his latest video illustrates the dark underbelly of a seemingly innocuous practice. Arguably, everyone is actually getting what they want here: Apple gets its profit, the line-sitters get a cut and the iPhone-less folks across the ocean get their prize. But when people are being arrested and sleeping in garbage bags, as they do in the video, it's clear that things have gone too far.
As one bystander says to a nearby police officer, "Everyone knows [this is happening.] How can this possibly be good marketing for Apple?"
It's certainly not good, but it seems as though it's the way things work now. As Gizmodo notes, "the line is no longer the gathering place for Apple zealots — it's the gritty front line of the international black market, the joyless, hardscrabble first link in a chain most U.S. consumers are happy to ignore."