Steve Jobs: His life in pop culture

Given his image as a digital saviour and lover of turtlenecks, it was inevitable that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would be parodied in pop culture. The spoofs were often less than kind.
Steve Jobs was depicted as Steve Mobs, CEO of Mapple Computers, in a 2008 episode of the Fox show The Simpsons. (YouTube)

Apple's products have touched our lives on a daily basis, and the product launches themselves were the stuff of legend. Given his universal reach and his image as a digital saviour and lover of turtlenecks, it was inevitable that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would be parodied in pop culture.

Looking back, the spoofs were often less than kind.

Saturday Night Live

Steve Jobs — as portrayed by Fred Armisen — made several cameos on SNL's Weekend Update segment. In one, he introduced the iPod Micro, which is the size of a cheese doodle, holds over 50,000 songs and features high-definition video.

When Weekend Update co-host Amy Poehler asks how it's possible to watch movies on such a small screen, Jobs replies, "Well, you won't have to worry about that, because by Thanksgiving, the iPod Micro will be obsolete," and tosses the Micro aside. Within minutes, Jobs unveils increasingly smaller iterations of the iPod, culminating with the iPod Invisa, which is so small as to be invisible, but nonetheless holds "eight million songs and every photograph ever taken!"

The Simpsons

On The Simpsons, he was Steve Mobs, the lisping, charmingly callous honcho of Mapple Computers. In a 2008 episode, Lisa Simpson accidentally overloads her "MyPod" with more songs than she can afford, and travels to Mapple's deep-sea lair to beg forgiveness. When she asks for a pardon, Mobs says, "I know our posters say ‘Think Differently,' but our real slogan is 'No refunds.'"

The episode also parodies Apple's messianic product launches. Mobs appears on a giant video screen to a room of enraptured guests, but before he can reveal the latest world-changing Mapple product, Bart hijacks the microphone and delivers this searing rant in Mobs's voice: "You're all losers! You think you're cool because you buy a $500 phone with a fruit on it? Guess what? They cost eight bucks to make, and I pee on every one! I've made a fortune off you chumps, and I've invested it all in Microsoft! Now my boyfriend Bill Gates and I kiss each other on a pile of your money!"

The scene climaxes with a riff on the iconic Apple ad that ran during the 1984 Super Bowl, which conveyed Apple's revolutionary spirit by showing a woman hurling a hammer at a screen featuring a Big Brother-type authority figure. Betrayed by Mobs's seeming disregard for consumers, recurring Simpsons character the Comic Book Guy hurls a hammer at the Mapple CEO's on-screen image, while yelling, "Your heart is blacker than your turtleneck!"

Mad TV

Here, Steve Jobs is depicted as the Second Coming, introducing the iPhone to an ecstatic audience. Overwhelmed by the smartphone's features, the crowd begins to suspect Jobs of dabbling in the occult: "He's an iWitch! He must be destroyed!" Angered, Jobs replies that the iPhone had another feature: eternal life for anyone who buys it. "I was just about to scroll down to it," he says, "but you didn't let me finish. Now, it's too late."

South Park

Jobs made several appearances on South Park, one of the most scathing satires in modern entertainment. Earlier this year, the show depicted Jobs as a jolly lunatic who invents the "HumanCentiPad," which involves fusing three beings in the grotesque fashion of the 2009 horror film The Human Centipede.

Option$ (novel)

This 2007 novel was written by Daniel Lyons, who had earned a bit of an online following for his blog posts as "Fake Steve Jobs." Written in the first person, Option$ portrays the Apple CEO as a man with a Jesus complex: "I'm famous for being a genius, and for running the coolest consumer electronics company in the world, which I totally started in my garage, by myself, or actually with this other guy but he's out of the picture now, so who cares."

On the question of his wealth, Fake Steve Jobs has this to say: "I never really cared about money anyway. I could wipe my butt with hundred dollar bills, that's how little I care about money. I actually did that once."

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (play)

In this none-too-flattering monologue, American actor Mike Daisey juxtaposes the idea of Jobs as a brilliant designer and master showman with the appalling conditions in the Chinese factories where Apple's products are made.

Crazy Stupid Love (movie)

In this 2011 film, Ryan Gosling plays a super-smooth lothario named Jacob Palmer who takes it upon himself to transform luckless schlub Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) into something resembling a hunk. In this mall scene, Jacob assesses Weaver's workaday wardrobe, which includes baggy jeans and white New Balance sneakers.

Jacob: Are you Steve Jobs?

Cal: What?

Jacob: Are you the billionaire owner of Apple Computers?

Cal: No!

Jacob: Oh, OK, well, in that case, you've got no right to wear New Balance sneakers – ever. [Slaps Cal]