Steve Jobs (discussion with spoilers)

I had a lot of stuff I wanted to discuss in my review of “Steve Jobs,” but I didn’t have room. So, here are all the leftovers.

Poke holes in the film before heating.

I thought Seth Rogan was excellent as Steve Wozniak. I would like to see him take on more dramatic roles in the future. Maybe one day he will even receive an Oscar nomination like his pal Jonah Hill, who has two noms. Who saw that coming? No offense, but I think you would have gotten better odds on Leicester City winning the English Premier League.

In the film Wozniak makes reference to him and Jobs (Michael Fassbender) being akin to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He goes on to say that he is tired of being treated like Ringo Starr, to which Jobs replies, “Everyone likes Ringo.” Ouch.

An arguement can made that they are more like Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who. Townshend is the songwriter, while Daltrey is the frontman who gets all the attention. The more cynical among you may think of them as Chuck D and Flavor Flav from Public Enemy, but I don’t subscribe to that point of view.

In “Steve Jobs” the role of Job’s concious falls to Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). I knew nothing about Hoffman prior to watching the film, but she seems like a fascinating person. Hoffman refers to herself as Jobs’ “work wife,” but she seems more like the mother of a child that needs to learn how to play well with others.

If Joanna Hoffman is the surrogate mom, then John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) is the surrogate dad. When Sculley was working at Pepsi, he came up with a taste test called the “Pepsi Challenge.” It’s not stated in the film, but I always had the impression that Jobs saw Apple as Pepsi, (the choice of a new generation) and IBM as Coca-Cola (the old guard).

Nowadays, the script seems to have flipped. IBM’s “Watson” commercials come across as fun and whimsical, while a trip to the Apple store makes me feel as if I have entered an art gallery in New York City. I keep expecting an “Apple Genius” to pounce on someone who incorrectly pronounces “Van Gogh.” Bob Dylan appears in one of the IBM ads. I wonder what Steve Jobs would have made of that.

Anyway. I remember thinking at the time that painting yourself as the underdog is a fine marketing strategy, but if you want to be the top dog, you must act like one. Pepsi is a company that was born in second place, and will never reach the top step of the podium. The best they could ever hope for is to take market share away from Coke, while claiming to be the superior product. In hindsight, Jobs may have been better off hiring the CEO of Avis. At least they have a sense of humor about the whole “second place” thing.

I would have said “Ford,” but there’s far too many Edsel jokes for my data package to handle.

Back to the mother and father thing: Jobs had a complicated relationship with his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, (Katherine Waterston) and their daughter Lisa (played at different ages by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine). The one quibble I have with “Steve Jobs” is the portrayal of Chrisann. This has nothing to do with Waterston, and everything to do with Aaron Sorkin’s script. Chrisann comes across as nothing more than a new age hippie. It’s a one note characterization, and I think more could have been done to flesh out the part.

Speaking of characterization: there are those in the know who say the way Steve Jobs was portrayed in the film was accurate, but not the full picture. Sure, he could be an a-hole, but he’s not 100% a dick. Maybe 60% of the time he’s a dick 100% of the time, but that’s about it.

This is especially true of the years Jobs spent denying that he was Lisa’s father, despite a paternity test, the results of which showed a 94.1% likelihood of him being her dad. Jobs took this to mean 28% of the US male population could be Lisa’s father (don’t ask me to explain the math). Chrisann rightly takes this to be a insult. Like I said: bit of a dick.


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