June 3, 2012

Manjoo: Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Movie is Going to be a Disaster

Farhad Manjoo's criticism of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, for pandodaily:

"It skips questions about his management style: Why, when he returned to Apple in the 1990s, did Jobs suddenly become a much better boss than he’d been in the past? He learned to delegate better, to trust his subordinates’ instincts — how, and why? How did he develop his keynote presentation style? How did he come to rely on corporate secrecy?"

Good questions. The answers would provide insight into Jobs' later life and, in the hands of a skilled writer, make for an interesting story about one of the most successful and respected innovators of the computer age.

Farhad's contention is that the Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter for the forthcoming Jobs movie based upon Isaacson's book, will take only the juicier details of Isaacson's work for his screenplay. Storytelling is, after all, what Hollywood is all about. It would take a supremely gifted writer to make geek-worthy details of interest to the average moviegoer.

Is Sorkin that skilled? I'd bet he is, but he won't go down that road. Far more likely that he'll produce a story akin to "The Social Network" or "The West Wing," one that entertains, but gets the finer details wrong. Both of those productions were great entertainment, if not true to the facts.

As Sorkin said, his project is a minefield of disappointment. He's anticipating the criticism that Manjoo leads.

A last question I'd ask is, does it matter to the wider audience? Or will geeks again be relegated to the role of spoiler, telling our friends "it wasn't really like that" in response to their enthusiasm for the movie? Can't we just enjoy the story?

Farhad's article is a thoughtful Sunday read. He's a skilled writer himself, and he gets the details right.