Jobs with his Lover (photo from Norman Seeff)
If film director Alex Gibney had made his documentary Steve Jobs: the Man in the Machine before Jobs was dead, he might have found his green light smashed.
Gibney calls his documentary “unflinching.” However, he tries to be fair, as an iPhone/Mac owner, but it’s hard to be objective in the face of one of the most ruthless cult figures of American business.
Jobs follows in the tradition of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, but unlike those men who finally tried to change their reputations through monumental charity foundations, Jobs would have none of that.
A professed Zen spiritualist, he compartmentalized his “values” from his sense of aesthetics. With enormous personal charm, he could maintain a certain status of being loved, while abusing those who loved him.
From the illegal backdating of stock options, to small personal slights, Steve Jobs does not come out of the ephemeral world of personal computers with a free pass. He noted that these products have a limited shelf life—and his reputation may have historical currency, but likely will not be on a par with Cheops or Ancient Aliens.
It wasn’t because their attitudes were different. Like all Type-A personalities, Jobs was the center of his fate and was not even prepared to relinquish it to death through mere cancer.
The film shows cult followers in shock at his death—and personal acquaintances in mixed emotional states of mess. If there is a legacy for messing with people, Steve Jobs was a master.
Oh, yes, as some kid states in the film, “He invented everything.” Yes, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macbooks, and on and on. However, this documentary may remind you that Jobs likely couldn’t fit all those inventions through the eye of a needle. He certainly tried.