How Does Steve Jobs Movie Handle Apple Founder's Buddhism?

Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs
Ashton Kutcher plays Steve Jobs in the new film 'Jobs.' (Open Road Films)

Jobs is a biographical movie based on the life of technological icon and founder of Apple Computers Steve Jobs. Spanning from 1971 to 2001, with Ashton Kutcher playing the title role, Jobs tries to show the passion and motivation behind the complex innovator.

In the 1970s, Jobs, a college dropout, is trying to figure out his life. Looking for purpose, he experiments with drugs and even travels to India, only to find himself working for an intolerable video-game maker.

When his childhood friend Steve Wozniak (aka Woz) shows Jobs his new computer board, Jobs sees the potential in it. Together, he and Woz form a small team, building computer boards and selling them. They call their new little company Apple. Before long, Jobs finds an investor to give their startup company the proper financial backing it needs.

In 1977, Apple launches the Apple II personal computer, and it’s a massive hit. Now at the helm of a multimillion-dollar company, Jobs finds himself facing new problems, especially with board members who see him as a liability to the company due to his tough working manner. His perfectionism and obsession with details begins to destroy longtime relationships and worries the financially minded board. Eventually, the board sees fit to kick Jobs out of Apple. Angered by their lack of vision, he ventures on his own, creating the computer company NeXT.

Years pass, and Apple is on a downward spiral. Jobs, now in a stable marriage and emotionally under control, is asked to come back to Apple, this time as interim CEO. The rest is history.

Jobs succeeds in many aspects, but it isn’t perfect. In one respect, it tries to bite off more than it can chew in terms of plot. Yet in character, it oversimplifies a complex man and only scratches the surface of his story. Though the climax may have been clear in the screenwriter’s eye, it fails to communicate to the audience emotionally.

Factually, Jobs isn’t entirely accurate, but it properly portrays Steve Jobs' unstoppable drive and unprecedented passion for quality. The movie lacks a certain amount of emotion and heart until its final moments. However, much of this is due to the fact that Jobs led a complicated, nontransformational life until his recent death. Instead of having a large fictitious character arc, Jobs shows both the inspiring aspects and destructive elements of the inventor's life. It also leaves the final judgment up to viewers.

Jobs has a mixed pagan worldview. Though Steve Jobs was a Buddhist in real life, this is ignored for the most part in the movie and only hints at New Age Hinduism in his early years. Still, most of the movie is pagan.

However, this is combined with some strong moral, capitalist and even pro-life sentiments. Jobs' drive for creating quality products relates to the biblical mandate in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (NIV). On the other hand, Jobs fails to balance this sentiment with family and friends, so the movie shows the negative effect of his obsession with work.

Steve Jobs was adopted. In the movie, he struggles with the fact that his biological parents didn’t want him. He laments in one instance, “Who has a baby and throws it away like it’s nothing?”

In Jobs, though Steve is not meant to be a role model per se, he is an inspiration for many due to his desire to change the world with the talents he had. Jobs contains plenty of foul language, some implied sexuality and drug use, so extreme caution is advised.

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