Did you ever wonder what’s inside Bill Gates‘ brain? Me neither, but the good people at Netflix did, and studied this topic for a documentary called “Inside Bill’s Brain”. Yesterday, I stumbled upon this innocently-meant paean dedicated to the genius who eradicated polio and brought about the microcomputer revolution, and immediately hoped for a sequel. In the light of latest developments my interest in Bill’s brain has considerably increased.
“Oh Bill, why did you have to be fitted with such a human brain!” I want to scream in disappointment. It’s such a personal humiliation to realise how, again, I have been worshipping at the wrong genius-altar.
He’s Bill Gates, the soft-spoken Davos-fixture whose fabulously middle-aged invention of a personal computer is worlds apart from the millennial billionaires who flap around with bitcoins and driverless cars -nonsense!
He was supposed to fix the world with his computer money!
He even knows how avoid a climate disaster! (Bill Gates: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, 2021.)
He was supposed be the quintessentially can-all Male Genius, who could have bought himself non-pedophile friends in the case there’d been no other volunteers.
But we want our geniuses untouchable, until they are not. After that, we blame an agenda.
Take the case of French book editor Vanessa Springora. Her memoir Consent reads like a surgical cross-section of a Male Genius. So the guy wrote books in Paris and was a celebrated Male Genius. He also was openly a pedophile, but people thought a couple of kids surely were an adequate sacrifice in exchange of his literary oeuvre.
Even after the notoriety of Springora’s book there are those who, instead of admitting that maybe the Male Genius was just a sick human being, run around looking for an agenda to blame. (Should she not have maybe known better? Can one blame her mother? Is something off with the French legislation?)
(I have to very hastily point out that of course Bill Gates is not accused, or suspected, of any criminal activity. Cheating on one’s wife and having extremely poor judgement with choosing friends is not criminal. It’s human. Hey, can happen to the best of us.)
Or Steve Jobs, another idolised microcomputer-billionaire. How clever was he, with the on-brand turtlenecks! And the commencement speech, when he told us to stay hungry, and stay foolish! And how foolish we were, indeed, when his daughter’s memoir served up a story that didn’t fit our imagined narrative about him.
Because what did we say? She’s only after a revenge and his money. That’s what we said.
And there’s our Male Genius myopia: they spoil us with the fruits of their geniousness, be it a technological thingumabob or, I don’t know, cubism, and we are ready to hand them a waiver from humanity, with the exception clause “boys will be boys“, should things go horribly haywire.
The good thing about being a Woman Genius is, of course, that one is never put on a pedestal in the first place. There’s nothing God-like, or God-related, in Women Geniuses’ pastures. Every success is a little bit suspicious, every unbelievable achievement surely comes with a logical explanation “see, anyone could do that!”
She will most certainly be respected, but also requested to stay on her lane. She will most certainly not be considered the master of all trades and thus requested to give advise on every matter under the sun, just because she came up with idea of an online application in college. Needless to say that chances for a Netflix special about the insides of her brain are also on the slim side.
Rather than elevating a woman to the league of Geniuses, there’s first a competition for who can find the most reasons that she’s not all that.
Could it be she’s an absent mother? Has self-esteem issues? Once made a racist comment in her teens? Is actually a bitch? Cold? Only made it because of her husband’s money?
But in the league of the Michaelangelos of this world? Hardly.
I wrote in the beginning that I’m keen for a sequel to “Inside Bill’s Brain“. Cross that, actually, for I think I already have a good enough idea. It’s what’s inside any married, middle-aged man’s brain*: How to have sex with as many coworkers as possible without getting caught.
*In addition to the ability to come up with a lot of code, a skill I do not intend to belittle.
Photo credit: Ministerie van unieke zaken, 2015. http://www.von-b.be