Jonathan Kim on Alex Gibney’s ‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’

Jonathan Kim calls it “an Apple-hater’s manifesto”:

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and the man credited with bringing both personal computers and advanced mobile electronics to the masses, died on October 5, 2011. But the battle to define both the man and his legacy is being waged right now in the form of several books and high-profile films, the latest of which is the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine, from Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, a man I’ve interviewed in the past and whose work I greatly respect.

That’s why it really bums me out that The Man In the Machine makes little attempt to portray someone who was, by most accounts, a complex, iconic, but all-too-flawed man who, over the course of his career, could be both inventor and thief, monk and businessman, brat and sage, tyrant and beloved leader, and managed to use those conflicting traits to both change the world and create the most valuable, influential, and admired company on the planet. Instead, The Man In the Machine is focused largely on the thesis that Jobs was always and only a jerk, that people who enjoy Apple products and admire Jobs are idiots and cult members, and that the computer revolution that was born of Jobs’ vision must inevitably contain the same ugly darkness Gibney feels is Jobs’ defining trait, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Sounds like the film equivalent of Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book Haunted Empire — an attempt to fit the facts to a preconceived narrative, rather than craft a narrative from the actual facts.

Friday, 4 September 2015