by Rod D. Martin
August 17, 2013
So I just saw Jobs. It’s pretty good. But there’s a big caveat to that.
Like most people these days, I’m a huge Steve Jobs fan. Unlike most people, I’ve been a consistent fan without let up since I was about 12 (yes, that’s 1981 if anyone’s counting). And through all that time, I’ve been a consistent fan of Apple, even when they were screwing up. I’ve owned Macs — many, many Macs — consistently since they were a very new thing, even in the very bad times. And during those times as now, if Apple paid me commission on all the Macs and other Apple stuff I’ve sold for them, I wouldn’t need a day job.
I never once made an excuse for Apple’s mistakes. But I did hold out the belief that they still represented an incredible vision — Steve’s vision — that deserved life, and that would in time change the world. It certainly changed my world, and the worlds of many of my friends. And that was true in the bad years and the good.
Steve Jobs deserved vindication for a great many things, and the movie accomplishes that. It shows clearly the consequences of Jobs losing control of his own board, among other things, the result of which was his own firing, but perhaps even more importantly, the under-powering and over-pricing of the original Macintosh, a mistake from which Apple never really recovered and which gave first IBM and then Microsoft room to dominate a field Apple invented.
Steve’s brilliance is not today in doubt.
So it is all the more disappointing that the movie’s writers felt the need to trash Gil Amelio, as though he were one of the bad guys in this play. As the movie rightly shows, it was Amelio who brought Jobs back, Jobs who stabbed Amelio in the back. But the movie goes on to lay all of Apple’s mid-1990s woes at Amelio’s feet, when in fact Amelio had saved the company from bankruptcy in the mere months he had been there.
In fact, in the climactic board room scene, Amelio is shown as one of the idiot drones who didn’t “get” Apple, Jobs as the guy with all the brilliant ideas; when in fact, nearly every idea Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs utters had either already been done by Amelio or mapped out by Amelio and Jobs together. Theirs was anything but an adversarial relationship — indeed, it was a creative, productive partnership — until Jobs did unto Amelio what had earlier been done unto him.
As I pointed out in my Forbes piece this week, none of this is to take anything from Jobs; nor does it have to. So why should the movie do it at all? It is needless and ugly, and unworthy of a movie which otherwise does a lot of good.
And indeed, it does do good. And it’s a reasonably entertaining watch. So go see it. But know the truth. Just as Jobs glosses over many of the details that made its subject truly great (what, not one word about Pixar? At all? And there are countless other examples), it needlessly trashes the man without whom there would have been no Apple for Jobs to return to. And that truly is a shame.