Saturday 8 July 2006

Pirates of Silicone Valley

"Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the true revolutionaries of our time. Not the students who occupied the dean's office in the late '60s. Not the anti-war marchers who were determined to overthrow the establishment. Jobs and Gates are the ones who changed the way the world thinks, acts and communicates."

Two or four years ago, barely anyone would have known who Steve Jobs is. He seemed to have lost the fight against Bill Gates, whom everybody seems to know even if only for the fact that he is so very rich, but following the iPod, the one gadget that might have actually changed the way we hear music, the race of importance between the two might just as well have begun anew. Martyn Burke's movie was released in 1999, so Jobs (Noah Wyle) does not seem to be the winner here – at one point of the movie, he is on stage talking to his workers and then there is Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall) on a huge screen behind him, talking down on him, despite the fact that he is supposed to be the enemy. Even if this docudrama is not entirely accurate historically, it manages to transport one general idea – Gates and Jobs might have worked on the same thing, a personal Computer, but they were as different as possible in their approaches and views on life as possible, which still reflects in the image of their respective companies. While Jobs talks about Karma and wants to create something spiritual, Gates looks like the typical geek – he is apolitical, not as creative as his counterpart, but knows exactly how to do business. In the end, Gates will be the successful, mainstream man, but Jobs will continue to create spiritual gadgets which will be able to stand for a certain lifestyle. In the legendary 1984 ad which was aired during the superbowl, Jobs creates the news that he and his small company are going to change the monotonous, fascist world dominated by IBM. Of course the question remains – can something as expensive as Apple be an alternative, or has the alternative become mainstream? Are Apple the good people just because their PCs are in the art class rather than the greyer business classes? Has Job lost his good karma?
The two figures are only seen from outside, while the movie is told from the perspective of Wozniak, a friend of Jobs and Steve Ballmer, a friend of Gates. The acting is terrific, exceptional, great, since both Wyle and Hall seem to be born to play this role – and never forget whom Anthony Michael Hall played in "Breakfast Club". The geek who once proclaimed that he had a fake ID in order to be allowed to vote has finally succeeded over the jocks that tortured him. He owns the empire that changed our world. He is one of the powerful men in history, not only money wise, but also because he managed to change the way we communicate and think.

No comments: