Maybe you’ve heard of this Steve Jobs guy. One of the founders of Apple Computers. There’s a good chance that you might be reading this review on a device that Steve Jobs had a hand in developing – just like I’m writing this on my Apple produced iPad. Some consider him one of the most influential people of our modern age. Whenever this man got up to speak, whenever he was ready to launch a new product, people listened. Crowds would gather to hear him talk about the new iPhone or iPod. He’d have the audience hanging on his every word and leave them with them giving him a standing ovation.
When he passed away in 2011, he left many people wondering what would happen to Apple without its charismatic front man. The Internet was flooded with words of tribute for this man, of how much he meant to people. But another question was lurking under the surface – what was Steve Jobs really like?
Jobs is the first of the Steve Jobs bio-pics to hit the cinema screen (there’s another one on its way written by Aaron Sorkin, the writer of West Wing and The Social Network). With Ashton Kutcher donning the iconic jeans and black shirt, this film attempts to show us the man behind the Apple logo. However, it feels like the creators of this movie don’t know the answer either – they can’t make up their minds if he’s a visionary creator or a jerk. And it’s this ambiguity that is the downfall of this film.
The movie begins with Jobs’ presentation of the very first iPod in 2001. Everyone is on their feet, cheering and praising this genius. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a revered religious leader or a victorious general returning from war. How did we get to this point? Who is this man that brings people to their feet in jubilation? Well let’s rewind back to 1974, where Steve Jobs is a college dropout searching for direction. What we see looks stylish – the Sepia tones and classic rock soundtrack make this look appealing. It sums up Apple is a nutshell – well designed and shiny. But here’s where we see the first cracks in the Jobs movie. The first signs of info-dumping spam hit the screen, trying to throw as many unrelated Steve Jobs facts as humanly possible. Did you know Steve Jobs was adopted? No! Was it relevant to the plot? No! Do we want to see Ashton Kutcher prancing in a field loaded up on LSD after making this revelation? No! But don’t worry, you’ll soon be hearing about Steve being a fruitarian later on and you’ll be just as bewildered as why they bothered including it.
The other problem with Jobs is that the filmmakers seem to want to show us “the man behind the legend” and not glossing over the darker parts of his life. Here’s a man who is sexually unfaithful to his girlfriend, refuses to acknowledge the existence of his own daughter, regularly back stabs his friends, and allows his own ego and excess to drive his company towards bankruptcy. This is a warts-and-all presentation, but it left me wondering – why I was watching a movie about this guy? Why am I supposed to care about this guy. The tone of the movie is telling me that this guy is a visionary genius who understood design and computers at a level that was years ahead of his time. However the content of the movie shows that this guy was a total jerk. There is nothing redeeming about Steve Jobs in this movie, nothing to show me why he was so highly loved and esteemed by his followers. The film doesn’t even show us the last decade of his life, finishing in 1997 with Steve regaining control of the Apple company. Instead of showing us the impact Jobs had on the world, we get a montage sequence, where Steve talks about rebels and misfits while showing us pictures of all the people that helped make Apple great – people that the movie has just spent the last two hours showing us how Steve Jobs totally screwed them over. There is a severe disconnect here between message and content.
The one thing that Jobs makes very clear is that Steve Jobs is not the messiah. He was a manufacturer of electronic goods. And those little gizmos are great and have done great things for this world. But they can’t save you. Steve Jobs can’t save you. He’s not even a person worth emulating. He was a human being with serious flaws. Just like the rest of us. People may admire his vision and creativity but at the end of the day he was a man who gave us shiny new gadgets, not a new way of salvation. There’s a real danger that we can find our purpose and satisfaction in people or objects. We think that a “visionary” will come along and rescue us from our problems. Steve Jobs was not that man. And to put our faith and trust in him would be foolish. Instead, we should be looking to the true source of salvation – Jesus. Here’s what Peter had to say about Jesus – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Jobs is a good looking movie with some serious problems when it comes to what story they want to tell. If you want to know more about the man behind Apple, this is a good start. If you want to understand him and why people looked up to him? You’re going to need to look elsewhere.