“Inside Bill’s Brain” Director Deploys Heart — Not Brain — Appeal
Film maker Davis Guggenheim (“Inconvenient Truth”) could make you love Henry Ford, anti-Semite and exploiter of cheap labor, because he loved his mother. And created a popular car.
That’s what we get from the three-part hagiography of Bill Gates, “Inside Bill’s Brain,” on Netflix, ostensibly focusing on Bill’s brain — or his smarts — and not on his unsuccessful and ruthless business practices. Hey, he loved his mom, and doesn’t everyone bless Microsoft for delivering such a stellar operating system to the masses?
Let’s forget about Gates’s attack on free software, the way he got his first big chunk of cash through a deal with IBM because of his mom’s connections. A minor detail not covered in “Inside Bill’s Brain.”
Also, no mention in this hagiography of how Gates’s team stole secrets by refusing to sign nondisclosure clauses when examining software from startups they pretended to partner with and then put them out of business by using what they’d learned to create similar programs.
The film brushes over many of Gates’s failures, particularly his performance before a Congressional committee where Microsoft faced charges of monopolistic practices. Instead it focuses on how sad and stressed out this confrontation made Bill, who later — the ruthless capitalist now a caring philanthropist bent on eliminating diarrhea and malaria from those third world countries where companies like Microsoft reduced an educated swathe of the population to serving call centers for tech and customer support — admits that he was just “naïve,” a word choice handed to him on a plate by Guggenheim.
Even his foundation (Melinda is part of this venture, a partnership that seems to have been initiated more to preserve their marriage, which is briefly depicted through an annoying animation in a car where the wife breaks down because she never gets to see Bill, who works nonstop) has failures ….like pushing $400 million into the Common Core Standards so that teachers — who refused to buy in — could train the future workforce. But these failures aren’t mentioned in the film. All is glorious with the Gates Foundation, according to its director, Susan Desmond Hellman, heiress to the fortune from her dad, hedge fund guru Warren Hellman, despite the high employee turnover that’s been reported.
Instead, we see Bill and Melinda gliding over water in their canoe (or kayak?) and Bill chowing hamburgers at an Omaha diner with friend Warren Buffett, who has entrusted much of his fortune to the Gates Foundation. Just ordinary guys with bigger brains and wallets than you or me. And that’s why it’s OK for them to run the world.