tue 16/10/2018

Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy, BBC Two

Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy, BBC Two

Documentary about a really cool app for siphoning off the whole world's pocket money

iTake: the gospel according to Steve Jobs

He would not hesitate to wake up employees at all hours to yak about ideas. He could fire an underling in the seconds it took for the elevator to ferry him to or from his fourth-floor office. He shouted, like, a lot, even at Bill Gates. Especially at Bill Gates. And yet the great and the good last night all queued to waft smoke up the posthumous iHole: Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet, Norman Foster, who invented the glass airport, Stephen Bayley, who invented designer waffle. No one in this hagiographical walk-through of a life in gizmos seemed inclined to suggest that Steve Jobs was surely a bit of a [ ____ ] .

This was the story of the man who, putting an i in front of everything you use and own, turned solipsism into a handheld device. He hooked up the phone he sold you to the laptop he sold you to the camera and music system and music library he sold you. He slipped into your pocket and took control of your life. You set up a standing order to siphon money from your bank account into his via an app known as the iPlunder. It was all, to use his parlance, really cool. People - and he was probably the one to float the idea on Wall Street - think he was the reincarnation of Gandhi and/or Einstein.

The empathy widget never made it out of the box

The headlines of the story we all know: Mac, iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad. Each a paradigm-shifting, axis-tilting revolution etc in the way we live now blah blah blah in the world as we know it yadder yadder. The planet heated up and the hemispheres turned vengeful but at least everyone had neat white headphones. “There is a poetic dimension to some technological artefacts,” wept Sir Norman Foster. Stephen Fry advocated that style and substance are the same thing, his point only slightly ruined by a moustache embodying neither. Jobs’s relationship with his designer Jonathan Ive “had a zen-like meditative intensity”, whispered Monsignor Bayley. There weren’t many women invited to this tribute. It was like walking into a San Francisco bathhouse in 1976. The boys for Jobs.

Unless you are fully conversant with the Wiki entry, some of this stuff was less familiar. Jobs got fired from Apple after a clunky plastic cube that used to be the shape of things to come (pictured right) didn’t sell. Big mistake, admitted the suit who unseated him. “I was focused on how do we sell Mac 2 computers. He was focused on changing the world.” Jobs financed this modest project by then investing in Pixar. Yes, he made his first billion out of Buzz Lightyear. They even shared a catchphrase. He was an oxymoron. Having dropped a few tabs of LSD and ingested much Dylan, Jobs remained delusionally committed to the idea that he was part of the counter-culture and its flowery credo of peace, love and global domination. He didn’t do such stuff as ordinary lives are made on - furniture or possessions or the like.

Meanwhile the empathy widget never made it out of the box. Did losing his own job make Jobs happier to remove others from their jobs? We were not told by Evan Davis who was fronting this snowjob nor by the various ex-colleagues who seemed faintly anxious that Jobs may yet garotte them from beyond the grave. Someone who paid tribute was called Robert X Cringely, and that’s probably how everyone feels around the holy memory.

Just one question for the fanbase, should any of them still be reading. If Steve Jobs really was the Messiah, how come he couldn’t make a battery last longer than a Friday-night bladder?

 

Jobs remained delusionally committed to the idea that he was part of the counter-culture and its flowery credo of peace, love and global domination

Share this article

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters