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Does the end justify the means? 'Steve Jobs': a review

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? Or is the dramatic, crashing of the tree muted because it lacks witnesses? Is a film only as good as the number of people who flock to theaters to watch it? Or is the deafening silence inside the theatre speaking a louder word than the bloated budget that it took to make the film?

The highly anticipated film Steve Jobs released this weekend to a lack of fanfare but a choir of critical acclaim. Debuting with a meager $7.3 million opening weekend box office total, this was only a little more than the 2013 Jobs, which took in $6.7 million on opening weekend. This newest biographical rendition cost $30 million to make and needs $120 million in box office receipts in order to break even. Studio executives were left pondering internally and spinning externally the dismal results of this newest film centering on Steve Jobs.

Written by cinematic genius Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs is almost more of a theatrical play than a Hollywood movie. Partitioned into three parts, the release of the Macintosh, the beginnings of the Next computer, and the launch of the iMac, Sorkin's film is generous in his portrayal of the leader of Apple but not completely silent concerning his infamous flaws. He shows Jobs as much more winsome and genial than the 2013 version, which was also based upon the Walter Issacson biography.

The movie centrally depicts Jobs and his primary relationship with his work. His perfectionism compels him to strive for greatness and nothing less, which can either engender support or create animosity among those whom Jobs lives and moves around.

What is unique about Sorkin's depiction Jobs is the emphasis by which the creator of Apple sees the world. Some believe that Steve had a distorted view of reality, viewing the world the way he wanted to see it even if it did not align with reality. This separated him from those who were closest to him, and placed a great demand upon those people to live up to his standards.

This distorted view of reality was exemplified in how differently Steve viewed computers. Many saw them as scientifically-constructed transactional machines, whereas Steve saw them as beautiful, transformative pieces of art. It was repugnant to Steve to characterize computers as scientific. But when it came to human relationships and determining if he was the father of his alleged daughter Lisa, Steve differed from others and relied upon cold, transactional science. Though many people viewed children and relationships as beautiful, transformational pieces of art, Steve took the opposite view. For Steve, computers were art and people were science. But for others, computers were science and people were art.

This worldview led Steve to deal coldly with people and sacrifice deeply for machines, thus raising perhaps the most intriguing question that the movie asks but never seems to answer: does genius excuse bad behavior? Does the end justify the means?

Greek historian Plutarch chronicled the unlikely feats and heroic actions of men of old. Plutarch believed that by reading and hearing these stories of monumental feats, it would spur action, encourage hearts, and help readers and listeners learn from and not repeat the mistakes of old. Plutarch epically opined: "To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future."

The biblical narrative is replete with God using imperfect people to accomplish his perfect ends. He used a murder in Moses to lead the people out of slavery. He used an adulterer in David to secure a piece of land for his people. He used a liar in Peter to be the rock upon which he would build his church. However, God's use of them never was a justification of their behavior. Rather, it was a reminder of his power so that these imperfect men might function as trophies of his grace.

Though there are but a few flocking to see the newest biopic Steve Jobs, many critics are making noise about the brilliant depiction of this troubled genius. But maybe louder than the critics' praises is the truth that God can use imperfect people to bless the world he so loves—especially with neat iPhones.

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