Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Jobs is thin, effortlessly thin, it seems, as he has no present health issues, and is simply a beanpole by nature. Other people are like this; Obama, for example, or, at the extreme end of the spectrum, Manute Bol. He is really, really thin (I saw him in Penn Station), and he somehow managed to play NBA basketball.

In America, even the genetically-predisposed cannot swim against the tide of sedentary jobs and unnatural food, though, and journalists are no different. Everyone is fat. Many journalists are probably jealous, on a deep level, of Jobs' lean yet un-muscular, and now-uncommon, look.

His unknown level of adherence to pescetarianism, or veganism, or a vegetarian diet (avoiding meat doesn't get an ism around here), the strain of cancer and recovery, and his natural thinness (compare him with Wozniak in every photo from 1977 until now) make Jobs unusual. Being different and hard to figure out, and then refusing to do publicity outside of product launches or corporate business, means most of America, happy to be serenaded by an iPod know little about Jobs, or even Apple.

In the media though, Jobs' thinness, admittedly a mostly unexplained and at times visibly jarring phenomenon, becomes a means of alienation. He gets to be thin without trying! Twists of logic are made to accommodate the strangeness of Jobs' physique.  If he had cancer, which made him thinner, he must have it again, as he is still thin now. These observations take on a lot of added heft, pun intended, for most readers, who have ready-to-go psychological and cultural templates for Others like Jobs. Suddenly, a man who manages to remain thin must have cancer, or something wrong, to look so different.  

Apple the company, which is the "reason this matters" and is "why we write about Jobs' health", is then swirled into the mix, an alien itself. Again, Jobs and Apple are somewhat to blame. A cultivated mystique surrounds the company and generates serious free marketing. Failing to comment for the press is un-corporate in America. Apple is difficult to cover, as it is an opaque operation appears  choreographed press shows. The company, and thus Jobs, demand that each media outlet find an angle that differentiates them from a sea of identical coverage, and so reporters go searching. 

Naturally, this has led them to Jobs and his health. Now that each outlet has reported and commented on the matter, and found no other as compelling to the market, it has become a staple after each event. The level of hysteria in the coverage is too high, though, for it to be a simple matter of readership. The higher each source ratchets the pressure within its walls to "figure out what makes this guy tick", and not cover what Apple is doing, is rewarded, because the audience shares the journalists' seeming alienation from Jobs, and thus the true workings of his company. 

It is not that the truth cannot be found about either, because Jobs seems unwilling, but occasionally can be forced, to go on the record about his health. The company is actually relatively transparent these days, because of its size, and usage of commodity parts. The truth is actually something that the audience, of media and readers, necessarily cannot understand, given their alienation. Any story confirms itself because it simply must be true, or else 

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