OFF THE GRID

Is Steve Jobs Off His Meds?

Apr 23, 10 | 5:58 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Steve Jobs is either having fun or going nuts—it’s sometimes easy to mistake that tonal difference in an email, quite a few of which Steve has been firing off recently (reflexive emailing is a sure sign of agitation).

Steve’s upset seemed to start with the cartoonist, Steve Fiore, winning a Pulitzer prize and then it turning out that Apple had rejected his iPhone app because, apparently, it ridiculed public figures—“a tough one to get around if you’re a political cartoonist,” said Fiore. Immediately after Fiore won his Pulitzer, Apple backtracked and put his app into the Apple store, prompting Jobs to respond to an email from a customer that it had all been a mistake—pay no attention.

There have been more emails from Steve since the Fiore mess. This is where the tone problem kicks in. You might read Steve’s emails as just a display of arrogance and dismissiveness born of owning the world—that is, fun. Or, it could be he’s just cranky about having his new phone left in a bar (although, frankly, I figure, it’s as likely to have been a nicely executed publicity stunt—it’s Apple, come on). Or it could be something closer to a type of messianic righteousness and fury—i.e., nuts.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone,” he said to a user challenging this newly assumed policeman’s role. Steve added: “Folks who want porn can buy and [sic] Android phone.” Lest this be another mocking Steve Jobs pretender, TechCrunch analyzed the IP headers on the email and concluded, definitely Jobs.

Of course, this could be Disney’s largest shareholder speaking (indeed, the greatest part of Jobs’ wealth is in Disney stock, not Apple’s), seeing himself as the new family guy—the new Walt.

Or it’s a hardware guy talking. Hardware guys often have a certain sort of bashful modesty. They really don’t know from content, or want to know. That’s mostly been the Apple ethos.

Or—and this is an aspect of the fun part—it’s just a cocky sonofabitch dissing Google, just a competitive punch. Apple is the highroad and Google is the porno road.

Or—and this would be in keeping with so much of the oddness surrounding Steve—he really does see himself as the measure of true righteousness. There are just so many people trying to mess with and pollute his world (porn on his phone!), so many people who fall short of his exacting standards—hence there are so many who should be excluded, barred, not allowed.

He’s defending a perfect machine from your gutter thoughts.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.






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