Steve Jobs died leaving behind one of the greatest success stories in the world of computers. He also left behind a big band of worshippers. With his eccentric, allegedly spiritual, and “prophetic” ingenuity, Jobs carried around him an inimitable aura, much like the gadgets over whose 'invention', manufacturing and selling he officiated under thick cloaks of secrecy. He and his gadgets commanded more worship than understanding. He leaves behind a herculean task for his successors and an impossible benchmark for those who seek to equal him.
As news of his death spread there was a cacophony of sentiments being expressed on social networks. Indian newspapers picked it up the next morning and the sheer spread given by them to the event was stunning.
And then there was the punning. His death sparked a slew of puns across the spectrum of English language dailies. While there’s no denying that the names of his gadgets, all beginning with a lowercase ‘i’, and his own last name ‘Jobs’, are irresistible fodder for punning much of what emerged was immature, idiotic and irritating.
DNA did it, HT did it, nearly every English newspaper one had the misfortune of laying eyes on that day did it. And true to its wont, ToI overdid it.
“Jobs Takes iWay To Heaven - an iCon who revolutionised mobile computing...”
“All good Jobs come to an end”
“Apple of our i”
...all of this from just one edition (Mumbai) on the 7th of October. One wonders why they didn’t spell their name as the Times of iNdia for the day.
In the age of super profits and giving the lion’s share of space to advertising, the Masters have become ever more impecunious about space being made available for writing. So the aspiring writers of these articles punned like there was no tomorrow.
As for the news, there’s nothing in the pages that hasn’t been generated by the mammoth PR network retained by Apple Inc. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to find even one line of information in those articles which cannot be found through Google. The celebration of the “revolutionary technology” of Apple is marked by the absence of even a line telling the uninitiated about what is so revolutionary or path breaking about Apple’s technology apart from the fact that they made a lot of money off it.
Barring the one op-ed in The Hindu[i]
which spoke about how the Indian spirituality connection of Jobs was blown out of proportion, the entire English press seemed to go into impenitent idolatry of the iWhatevers and their creator. There’s absolutely no mention about how under Jobs, Apple has pursued some of the most restrictive anti-freedom practices in the world of computing. The articles are silent about how Apple copied ideas and concepts “shamelessly”[ii]
and having created fanatical consumer bases through mega marketing importunately stuck to sucking the pockets out of their customers by making everything proprietary (once you buy an iWhatever you buy everything about it from them, hardware and software).
But then again the English media of our country, boastfully calling itself the ‘national’ media, is silent on a whole range of issues that are far closer to the hard ground than the iCloud. When celebrating the revolution Apple brought to accessing the Internet, they are silent about the appalling Internet penetration in India - which is a direct result of our poverty and the lack of access to computer and Internet facilities which students from rural and poor backgrounds suffer from. They are silent about how the rift between the haves and the have-nots shows up even in the digital world in the fact that Facebook, Twitter and Orkut have Indians as one of the biggest groups of members, but barely 5% of India’s population uses the Internet[iii]
. They are silent about how despite being a stupendously growing market for Apple, India has nothing to benefit from its growth unlike China where these gadgets are made, thus enforcing a re-investment of the profits it makes from the land[iv]
But then again the Indian media is under an imperious spell of their masters form the imperialist worlds and report only that which is convenient to them. Given the elan with which they have severely under-reported the imploding American economy and the huge spate of rebellions rising up in the very heart of America[v]
, it is perhaps too much to expect them to report in balanced ways about a huge money minter like Apple.
Taking nothing away from Jobs the person, this essay notes that it is perhaps a sign of our times that we only celebrate monks who own and hence can sell Ferraris. The other 99% go un-reported.
[iii] Internet usage in China and South Korea, the other two major Asian markets of Apple have 28.8% and 80.9% of total population as internet users respectively. Source - World Bank Development Indicators
[iv] Foxconn, Apple’s manufacturer in China employs nearly a million direct employees in their Chinese plants alone. Source - Focus Taiwan News