Steve Jobs was a complicated man. Heralded by many as a genius, Jobs was also (by almost universal consensus) a grade A bully — and these two conclusions were often held simultaneously by the very same people. The entrepreneurial Jobs is said to have changed the world with his relentless drive and intolerance for the mediocre — creating the personal digital age not once but again and again. But those demanding personal qualities also saw Jobs wreak emotional havoc on those around him, savaging people in outrageous fits of pique and frustration. Jobs biographers like Walter Isaacson tend to try to balance the good (iconic) Steve Jobs with the Mr. Hyde version, acknowledging the latter while tacitly claiming that genius forgives a lot. Other Jobs chroniclers present Jobs with less appeal.
The Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney falls deeply into this warts and all — and more warts — category. Gibney hardly has to decide which way he’ll portray Jobs: he simply talks to people who knew him, and lets their anecdotes tell the Jobs story. For those who didn’t get a look at Gibney’s clear-eyed portrait while it was in theaters, CNN is airing Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine again on Saturday, January 9 at 9pm. When Jobs died there was an outpouring of emotion probably best expressed by the clever and simple post: iSad. Turns out that’s the way Jobs made a lot people feel when he was alive, too. Yet they still seemed — most of them — to admire him anyway. Genius apparently did forgive a lot.