Why I Won’t See the Film Steve Jobs

Steve JobsI have no problem with Apple products. I have an Mac in my kitchen. I am an agnostic in the computer wars. Well, close enough. If I’m feeling generous, I think people who are partisans of Windows, Mac, or Linux are just silly. Otherwise, I think they are idiots. I can and do use all of the computers and I don’t much care which one you put in front of me. In all cases, I’ll install vi and be happy as a clam. But there is one thing that I do hate: the Apple culture.

I can hardly believe that I still have to hear people tell me that Macs are easy to use. So are Windows machines. So are Linux machines. People who think that Macs are so much better than other systems are still living in 1990. They remind me of supposed Japanese soldiers who were fighting World War II long after it was over. Hey everybody: stick you head up and look around! A lot has happened in the last 25 years! But isn’t the iPhone great?! Didn’t Apple single-handedly invent everything that is good and true in the high tech?! They are the most slappable people in the world.

But even if you did think that Apple products were particularly super-keen, how does Steve Jobs fit into it all? I see him as effectively no different from Bill Gates — except that Gates at least was a programmer. But they were both successful because they were ruthless CEOs — the reincarnation of the robber barons. They weren’t successful because they were visionary or even competent. They were — as the best CEOs are — people capable of taking a particular market advantage and milking it for all it is worth. If you had switched Jobs and Gates in 1980, there would be no change in the history of computing.

So I’m not interesting in seeing the film Steve Jobs. Who is he that he deserves a biopic? I really don’t know. A film about Steve Wozniak might be interesting, because someone who actually knows something about technology having to live in the shadow of the Steve Jobs myth might be interesting. But from what I’ve read, this film is all about what a terrible person Jobs is. But why then are are we interested? Well, I think Bob Mondello on NPR sums up the feelings of most of the critics who are fawning over the film, “The film feels so electric while you’re watching, it’s hard to believe that after two hours, it doesn’t even get to the iPod, let alone the iPhone.”

In case you missed that, he’s saying that Steve Jobs is such an amazing genius that we should care. Oh. My. God! The iPhone! Can you imagine?! The iPhone?! Why it’s just the greatest thing in the world! Steve Jobs is responsible for our whole way of life! You get the impression that Mondello is sad Jobs didn’t leave stool samples so we could literally get the bottom of his genius. And this is just what you should expect, because among the people I read, this kind of witless joy over Apple products is common.

So I’m not going to see this movie because it is predicated on the idea that Apple is something more than just another company selling just another product. Certainly if Steve Jobs had never been born, we would live in a different world. It might be worse, but it is just as likely that it would be better. Steve Jobs’ greatest trick was convincing the world that he was a genius. He wasn’t a genius. He was just another robber baron of the later 20th century.

32 thoughts on “Why I Won’t See the Film Steve Jobs

  1. The best Steve Jobs bio was Pirates of Silicon Valley. Bonus, it had Michael Anthony Hall as Bill Gates in a roll that was just perfect for him.

    No reason to watch any others.

    • That’s interesting casting. It still seems too positive a gloss on the subject. I’m certain they were both a net negative for computing. (See: I can be more honest in the comments.)

      • Yeah, the producers still made them into lovable assholes. Since I know very little about computers, their being a negative influence is unclear to me. I do know that most of the computer geeks I have been around are typically very much in the same style. So are they that way because of the innate behavior of all computer geeks or are they just copying the behavior of Gates and Jobs?

        • Part of the problem is that computers are still very male dominated. Men never grow up if women aren’t around. My biggest problem with both men is that they weren’t really into the technology. Gates was barely a programmer; Jobs was not even that. Microsoft did enormous damage with its monopoly. Apple did enormous damage with “look and feel” lawsuits — and still does. But it is more a question of opportunity costs. I’ve written about this stuff before. You can do a search here on the two men. But I’m sure you get the idea.

          • See, it is things like “women make men grow up” that make it hard to wrap my head around the behavior of men. But it does explain the extreme whining that Gamergate had.

            I am sure I will get to it in the archives eventually, it will take a while since you have about five million words to read through. :)

            • Well, Gamergate seem to be a bunch of men who hate women. There are a lot of those, of course. But most tech guys are just clueless and infantile.

              You might be right regarding that word count. Ugh!

              • If you read enough of their ranting, the whining really shows up. So if the reason is that men need women to make them grow up, it is the reaction of a kid to a mom suddenly showing up and making them take a bath, brush their teeth and put on their pants correctly. And makes more sense then their hating women since most of them don’t actually hate women, they just hate having to behave.
                Or maybe it is just me not liking to use the term hate since it is a very strong word for something that is not very strong in the individual sense. Loathing sounds better as a descriptor.

                I did the math based on a post you recently did about your number of words per year-roughly a million words. So giving you some vacation time, “I am depressed and too full of despair to write” time and just plain don’t wanna time, it probably comes to about 5 million words for the six years you have had this blog. I am not counting because I am too lazy to.

                • Some of the things the Gamergate people have done can best be termed hatred. But any movement is going to attracted the mentally unstable, so it could just be that.

                  Well, I don’t actually take vacations. It used to be this terrible thing where I would stockpile articles for Christmas. Now I just try to run 3 days ahead. It gives me a lot of flexibility. And if there is something pressing, I rearrange things. I suspect the last two years have been in the million range — maybe more. The three years before that were less, but still productive. The first year was sketchy. It’s interesting how you get better at it. Of course, now that I’m down to 4 posts per day, it will be less. Let’s say 600 + 600 + 300 + 300 = 1,800 per day. So two-thirds of a million now.

                  • As I read into the archives, you mentioned you have hit over 8,000+ articles so I have lots to read. And you are right (in one of the articles you write about your output in), you are repetitive yet it is different enough to not be annoying.

                    • There have been a number of times when I’ve written an article only to see that I’ve already written the article. That even includes an article about a book that I apparently read — and liked — twice without realizing it.

                    • As I said, you do change things up enough that it keeps it lively. Granted there may be an upper limit on how many ways you can frame something like “capitalism is very naughty.”

                    • Yeah, that’s true. Perhaps more interesting is how my thinking evolves over time. The frame that I apply has changed a lot over the last 6 years, as I’ve learned more about economics. But I don’t take offense. It’s like when I read Dean Baker. If he’s talking about the TPP, he’s sure to mention that drug patents are protectionist and a terrible way to fund research. I know his work so well that I could write 90% of his articles. But lucky for me, I can jazz things up with puppets and literature and movies.

                    • Speaking of puppets, I am now going to a puppet show/make your own event for Phoenix’s First Friday next month. Apparently this woman makes it very very naughty. *side eye*

                      So that would be definitely different then Dean Baker.

                    • That’s cool. A lot of puppeteers are very naughty. They don’t get out much either…

                    • No, I’m not that interesting. I just like having someone to talk to.

                    • If you were not interesting, James, myself, and all the other people showing up to read and comment on your posts would not do so. Which means you might be selling yourself short.

                    • Don’t worry. I’m very much a narcissist in my own way. But I’m most interesting here. In real life, you’d hardly notice me.

                    • I probably would since I would be hiding in the books with you. I am really shy in person which makes it hard to be a politician I can tell you.

                    • I would figure it would be like acting. I’m fine if I’m on stage. But it may be harder, given a politician plays (more or less) herself.

                    • It is somewhat like acting and it is also being a salesperson. However it is mostly getting up the nerve to walk up to a door and talk to a person. Once I start the conversation it is much easier and then they are like “okay, go away now you obsessed with the law weirdo.”

                    • Yeah, that’s hard. The thing about a stage is that it is clear what one is doing. I’m terrible at selling, even though it is no different from doing a performance of Richard III.

                    • I enjoyed the digging up of Richard III they did and the facial reconstruction. For a dead guy, he was pretty good looking.

                      But yes, a stage makes it easier to slip into another persona and be less shy.

                    • We have a portrait of him — which the reconstruction looked fairly similar to. He’s been rather badly treated by history. Not that he wasn’t a murdering thug like the others.

                    • One day I will understand why “murdering thug” was part of the job description for being King.

                    • But not as bad as we were. *reads about another mass shooting*

                      Never mind.

  2. I will probably eventually see it not so much because I am interested in Steve Jobs. More that I am a fan on Danny Boyle and the films he directs.

    • That’s reasonable. The word is that the film is well made. The only real criticism I’ve heard is about the script. The consensus on Boyle seems to be that this is his best work in years.

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