Is Funny or Die’s Steve Jobs Movie Parody Risky?



Steve Jobs Funny or DieWe live in a day and age where tech giants are often elevated to cult leader status. This isn’t any different than any other day or time. Human beings like to deify regular people for some reason (that reason eludes me but that’s just me, right?).

As modern day idol worship there is arguably none stronger than the one and only Steve Jobs. I have a feeling that 40 years from now we may be hearing of Steve Jobs ‘sightings’ like we used to from Elvis Presley fans who desperately wanted to believe that the king was not dead.

Well, when this kind of zealous following surrounds someone it generally isn’t great business to parody that person (although considering the caricature of the real person ‘today’s’ Elvis has become and the cottage industry that exists around him that’s not always true, but Steve Jobs impersonators will likely be in low demand). Don’t tell that to the folks at Funny or Die.

The New York Times ArtsBeat reports

Techies have been keeping a hot eye on dueling Steve Jobs biopics, one an indie starring Ashton Kutcher and the other, written by Aaron Sorkin, in the works at Sony, which made “The Social Network.”

But it turns out there was also a joker in the deck nobody knew about: Funny or Die, the comedy Web site, said over the weekend that it had made its own Jobs movie — “iSteve” — and planned to unveil it online on April 15. A biopic poking fun at biopics, “iSteve” stars Justin Long (“New Girl,” “DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story”) in the title role. At 60 to 75 minutes, the movie is the longest project to date for Funny or Die, which generally features bite-sized videos.

Now don’t think that thought hasn’t occurred that this is all just a ruse to get a little press and to experiment with just how sensitive the market is to this kind of thing. But the Funny or Die mantra has never been very PC now, has it?

I hope it’s real. We need a little levity in a world that has become so serious at times that it can be downright stifling. It looks like Funny or Die sees where they are treading and are willing to take the plunge while setting the bar very low as to just how serious this all really is.

“In true Internet fashion, it’s not based on very thorough research — essentially a cursory look at the Steve Jobs Wikipedia page,” said Ryan Perez, who wrote and directed “iSteve.” “It’s very silly. But it looks at his whole life.”

Making fun of Mr. Jobs, the Apple co-founder who died in 2011 and who is considered a deity by many people (at least in the tech world), is a risky proposition, even if done gently. But Allison Hord, who produced “iSteve,” said the tone was such that “even the harshest fanboy critics will be able to laugh with us.”

Now here’s the question for you. Would you watch it? Does the mere idea of this kind of ‘parody’ make you bristle with righteous indignation? What would the Great and Powerful Jobs think? So many questions …..

Oh and what does this have to do with marketing and marketers you ask? Everything. The question is simple: How far are you willing to go to get attention for your efforts? Are you willing to tread in areas that some might consider sacred? What are your limits?

  • http://www.vitamincm.com VitaminCM

    First of all – how do you reference Justin Long and explain his credits without saying “He was Mac” in all the PC vs Mac commercials. Especially when it’s an article about Steve Jobs.

    Second of all, yes I will watch it.

    Third; and in answer to your question: Yes, every marketer SHOULD take risks like this. If people like it, you’re a genius. If they hate it, you’ll probably get more attention than you know what to do with. Either way, mission accomplished!

    • FrankReed

      NY Times did that for me :-).

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    There is definitely an art to treading on the sacred.

    The late stand up comedy legend George Carlin was a master at this. He thrived on getting an audience to “Ooooh” at a premise of his he introduced and by the time he done making his argument the whole auditorium was on his side cheering for him.

    But not everyone is George Carlin and I say that if you don’t intelligently think out your slaying of a sacred cow and set about dissolving all the objections people will be thinking, just leave this strategy to the professionals unless you want to get beat into submission, end up stuttering all over yourself and losing face in the eyes of your audience.

  • smwon

    I’m sure this parody will be 100 times more accurate than any other biography.