Mossberg: The Steve Jobs I knew isn’t in Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Steve Jobs’ movie

“In 1941, the brilliant writer and director Orson Welles made a movie loosely based on a famous, powerful, contemporary American business figure — the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst — that showed him in a bad light,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “He took artistic liberties with the character. But he didn’t call the movie Citizen Hearst.”

“In 2015, the brilliant writer Aaron Sorkin made a movie loosely based on a famous, powerful, contemporary American business figure — the technology innovator Steve Jobs — that showed him in a bad light. He, too, took artistic liberties with the character, and with events,” Mossberg writes. “But, his entertaining work of fiction isn’t labeled for what it is. It’s called Steve Jobs…”

“As a result, for the multitudes of people who didn’t know the real Steve Jobs, Mr. Sorkin’s film, which opens nationally Friday, will seem like a factual, holistic portrait of a great man, despite the screenwriter’s continuing protests that it’s no such thing and wasn’t meant to be a ‘biopic,'” Mossberg writes. “Unlike Mr. Sorkin, I did know the real Steve Jobs, for about 14 years — the most productive and successful 14 years of his career. I spent scores of hours in private conversations with him over those years, and interviewed him numerous times onstage at a tech conference I co-produced. And the Steve Jobs portrayed in Sorkin’s film isn’t the man I knew.”

Tons more in the full article – very highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last Friday:

Fiction using real people’s names… What’s Sorkin’s next screenplay, “George Washington goes to the Moon?”

This film is garbage precisely because it opportunistically trades on Steve Jobs name. If Sorkin had done as the multitudinously more talented and vastly more intelligent Welles did, and named the film something else, using invented names for his invented characters who spouted his invented, increasingly tiresome pitter-patter dialog, we might have a different opinion. Alas, Sorkin et al. were not confident enough to do so. Instead, they chose the easy way over the right path. They chose to profit off of a dead man’s name, blemishing his legacy, in order to peddle their flickering light show of falsehoods.

Why Danny Boyle filmed ‘Steve Jobs’ in three different formats – October 16, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ movie is fiction, blatantly inaccurate; yet another con job from Aaron Sorkin – October 14, 2015
Paid consultant Woz on ‘Steve Jobs’ movie claims accuracy doesn’t matter – October 13, 2015
Universal releases new 2:20-minute scene from ‘Steve Jobs’ – October 9, 2015
The Steve Jobs in ‘Steve Jobs’ is a fictional character invented by Aaron Sorkin – October 8, 2015
Jony Ive joins chorus of insiders’ complaints about new ‘Steve Jobs’ movie – October 8, 2015
The Strange Saga of ‘Steve Jobs’: A widow’s threats, high-powered spats and the Sony hack – October 7, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ director Danny Boyle warns of ‘tremendous, terrifying power’ of tech giants like Apple – October 7, 2015
Forbes reviews ‘Steve Jobs’: ‘An electrifying interpretive dance of abstract biographical cinema’ – October 7, 2015
Steve Jobs’ daughter Lisa skips movie screening, but parties with cast – October 7, 2015
Philip Elmer-DeWitt reviews ‘Steve Jobs’ movie: ‘I loved it’ – October 7, 2015
Aaron Sorkin: Steve Jobs just wanted to be loved – October 6, 2015
The ‘Steve Jobs’ movie that Sony, DiCaprio, and Bale didn’t want is now an Oscar favorite – October 6, 2015
Michael Fassbender already the odds-on favorite to win an Oscar for ‘Steve Jobs’ – October 5, 2015
Steve Jobs’ widow and friends take aim at Hollywood over ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic – October 5, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ biopic too nasty to win Best Picture award – October 2, 2015
Andy Hertzfeld: ‘Steve Jobs’ movie ‘deviates from reality everywhere’ but ‘aspires to explore and expose the deeper truths’ – October 2, 2015
Aaron Sorkin blasts Apple’s Tim Cook over ‘Steve Jobs’ critique: ‘You’ve got a lot of nerve’ – September 25, 2015


  1. Aaron Sorkin is a typical Liberal: Thinks he knows everything, but actually understands next to nothing and who constantly invents “facts” to back up his wrongheaded beliefs.

    1. Whether Sorkin is a this or a that party affiliation has nothing to do with the liberties he’s taken with this film.

      As an aside, its not possible to define liberal or conservative without the confusion that the right wing continues to spew.

      The right wing that wants more “stuff from the govt” to pursue endless war profiteering overseas – is this how we define a fiscal conservative?

      1. Yes politics matters. Sorkin is a liberal so he believes lying is not only OK it is virtuous, if done to advance liberal theology, that is liberal lies. Sorkin fills his News Room and West Wing with patent lies in every episode and liberals love it because his lies are done to smear conservatives. Now Sorkin lies about a liberal icon – Steve Jobs, a man I very much admire despite his politics being mostly but not all liberal. Now liberals object to a liar lying. But Obama built all his campaigns on lies about reducing the deficit, believe in traditional marriage, promising Obamacare would cost everyone less and let them choose their doctors. All lies. So, get used to it. Democrats are genetic liars. It is what they do.

    2. Hey, Charles. Isn’t it just SO cute how the peasants think liberals lie and that we and our lap dogs on Fox “News” tell the truth. Gawd, if I can’t get my laughter under control, I’m likely to have a heart attack!

  2. Sorkin has to change the name of the movie. He should be sued to do so. This movie is as much about Steve Balmer as it is about Steve Jobs. Maybe this will be his last film. Certainly, as long as it’s called Steve Jobs, it belongs in the trash bin.

    “Citizen Kane,” on the other hand, should be in everyone’s library as one of the top 100 films of all time.

    1. They used to put a disclaimer in movies, to the effect “The characters portrayed in this movie aren’t real people, living or dead”. This movie needs a disclaimer. And the Sorkin/Boyle charm offensive I’m seeing on the TV talk shows need to include that simple statement at the beginning of each appearance. I’m getting sick of the “This is an art piece, made for the intelligentsia. You actual people won’t get it. Don’t worry about the misinformation about Steve Jobs. You aren’t important enough to make a difference, even if you have been misinformed. I definitely don’t respect you enough to own up to my bad behavior.”

      The more times they appear, the stronger my impression becomes. Shakespeare had it “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” Too bad they’re forcing the actors to bring the message to the public along with them. Assholes is as assholes does.

      1. The character in Steve Jobs doesn’t exist in reality, or in fiction. No one that one dimensional is a real person. Everyone around the fake Steve seemed was than him, but somehow he wins. This film is artistically and factually dishonest, so Sorkin cannot hide behind this artistic license meme. His license has been revoked. The only beauty in the film is Steve Jobs’ name and the products he helped create. The film should have been called Aaron Sorkin. But no one would have gone to see it.

    2. The movie should be called “Steve Smith” about a guy who started a high tech company called Pear. Their famous computer was called Bartlett.

      But that movie would not have made a gazillion dollars.

  3. Fittingly, Mossberg barely knew SJ at all during the 1984-1997 period in which the film takes place.

    But i still dont fully buy into the notion that Steve blossomed into this soft sweet guy who was a great listener in his later years. We have lots of stories/emails that show he was a total prick even in the last couple years of his life.

    I still say id you love the “good side” of Steve, just read “Becoming Steve Jobs” — i really enjoyed it.

    In many ways the Steve Jobs story (like the Wolf of Wall Street, Goodfellas) is a cautionary tale of what some people will do for success. The lesson from his life is not “Steve was a sweetheart” it was something else.

    1. Dear M
      I’ve met a lot of CEO’s and all of them are pricks. You don’t get to that level without having to make hard decisions about people, products and ethics.

      Your comment that Job’s was a “total prick” is just plain wrong. Too many people and fact say he was not a “total prick”, just a prick some of the time to some people.

      For me, I’m OK with not being politically correct 100% of the time.

    2. “We have lots of stories/emails that show he was a total prick even in the last couple years of his life”

      Of course that is what is mostly out there – no one gives a crap about the rest. How often do you go to a support page and see glowing comments? You don’t the support page is there to help people with their issues. Writing “fluff” about how Steve adopted a puppy from the SPCA would not get page hits.

  4. Cults, Christianity and Steve Jobs (the movie)

    This movie reminded me of all the trappings of a modern day U.S. created cult, glomming onto Christianity.

    On the surface the modern day cult uses the same names and terminology. Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, but dig deeper and they are like some Bizzaro world compared to the original.

    This is exactly Steve Jobs the movie.

    Same names, vaguely familiar settings, and then pow, what is this lame counterfeit I’ve spent $18 bucks on?! I’ve been duped! Oh, and this Cult I’ve gotten into isn’t any good either. Track me, want more money, better be good or else! No thanks, I have the NSA for that!

  5. Simile uses “like” and “as”.

    Metaphor uses “is”.

    A movie full of similes will say, “This is like Steve Jobs”.

    A movie of metaphor will say, “This is Steve Jobs”.

    If you don’t get it, you probably don’t get Literature. Or most religious liturgy. Or most theology. Or probably poetry.

    People not getting it is not a good reason to not write it that way, or refer to it that way.

    When in doubt, repeat after me:
    Stories are never about what they are about.

    Do you think the movie “Gravity” is about astronauts? Of course it’s not. The main character’s child died. She’s lost sense of what is up and what is down. Is the last scene about her returning to earth. Yes, but not as an astronaut. She’s returning to the world. The ship lands in water. It sinks, she comes out, naked, breaks the water, breathes the air, sets foot on the sand. It’s not an astronaut scene. It’s a birth scene. She’s found earth again, found gravity, has a new start.

    Movies are never about what they are about. They’re about what they’re About. Until people get that they’re living in an artifice.

    So leave Sorkin alone. He gets it.

    (3 stars = you get it too.)

    1. Your fancy verbal dance, Higo, doesn’t change the fact that the movie is an outrageous, exploitative, one-sided view of the man — someone who also has living family who should also be respected.

      The comparison with Citizen Kane nails it. This movie should be called “Fred Miller” or something — and if called “Steve Jobs” should be about… Steve Jobs.

    2. Except when a movie or book is about historical characters and events, it should get the “historical” part mostly right instead of completely wrong.

      If you are going to focus on three narrow episodes in a person’s life (to the exclusion of practically everything else) then at least get the episodes right. It’s like focusing on three battles in WWII then getting the facts, tactics and consequences wrong.

      And besides, the historical Steve Jobs was clearly a much more fascinating, perplexing, complex and three-dimensional character than the person fabricated by Sorkin in this faux-documentary.

  6. I saw a sneak preview of the movie last night in St. Louis. I had an interesting reaction to the movie. First, I was mesmerized throughout, finding it highly entertaining. After the movie, though, I felt like I’d watched a very sleazy, fake movie. It paints a portrait of Steve Jobs as a despicable, extremely flawed person. There is no balance whatsoever. Also, the way the story is told is very phony. The dialog, especially, is phony. If you’ve seen any other Aaron Sorkin production, you might know what I mean. People talk in almost nothing but quick quips back and forth. No “normal” speak. Maybe this is how Sorkin believes people talk, but it’s not the way I see talk occurring in the world. All in all, the movie is quite defaming of Jobs, and in a way that irritates. High-brow crap is how I sum up the movie.

    1. I would like to see it, but since that means Sorkin would get some of my money, I won’t. I think it is becoming clear why casting it was so difficult: most quality actors don’t want to be part of such a complete character assassination.

  7. Sorkins arrogance:

    “Don’t worry who Steve really was…
    What counts is who i think he was and what i think he was like.
    Screw reality !”

    Well Sofkin.. Your arrogance shut yourself in your own foot.
    There is a difference in artistic representation and misrepresentation !

  8. I do agree it doesn’t put Danny Boyle in a good light being part of this trick either. Whether it is a good film is irrelavent on this specific point and shows these particular main characters and their artistic license as rather less moral than the character they are portraying on screen. Must be some irony there.

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