The Facebook Movie
Everyone is talking about “The Facebook Movie” that was recently officially released as “The Social Network”. I’ve been hearing all the hype about it for a while now and was excited to finally see it when it came out last week in South Africa.
The hype started when Sony Pictures released this trailer in July this year. The script was also leaked and many people weren’t very happy with it. For one thing, it looked like a typical Hollywood style “over-dramatization” of events. While we waited for the movie’s release, there were some very funny mock-trailers that were made about some other social networks (watch the one about Twitter).
Eventually, the movie was released and, to everyone’s surprise, it was actually very good.
I went to see the movie because I’m passionate about social media and I wanted to hear the Facebook story. Of course, you’re not going to get the full story from the movie but it’s an interesting perspective. There were a couple of things that spoke to the character of Mark Zuckerberg but I dont think he’s a very easy man to figure out.
The movie centres around two lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg. The first was about the ownership of the intellectual property which, to me, was summed up pretty eloquently by Zuckerberg in the movie: “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook you’d have invented Facebook.”
The second lawsuit was from Eduardo Saverin who was the source for the book that the movie was based on. He has now been reinstated as a co-founder of Facebook but it’s obvious to see how bitter he was when the book was written. It was interesting that the director chose to use this song by Scala in the trailer, which is a version of Radiohead’s “Creep”, but didn’t use it in the final movie. Was Mark a creep?
“The plot of the book/script unabashedly attacked [Zuckerberg], but I actually felt like a lot of his positive qualities come out truthfully in the trailer (soundtrack aside). At the end of the day, they cannot help but portray him as the driven, forward-thinking genius that he is.”
The rest of the movie is a largely fictional depiction of Mark’s time at Harvard and how Facebook rapidly grew (almost) out of his control. There are a few things that stand out.
- He is a super bright geek. This is obvious from all the hacking and coding that he did himself.
- He is super arrogant. Initially, he added in “A Mark Zuckerberg production” footer to every page on Facebook.
- He made a few mistakes, just like anyone else, but moved on from them and stuck to his passion.
- He has a very wry and witty sense of humour. Under advisement from Sean Parker, he had business cards printed out saying: “I’m CEO bitch”.
- He’s extremely driven to succeed and absolutely loves what he does.
The man himself had this to say when asked why he started Facebook (in the movie, it purports to be all about getting a girl):
“.. the reality for people who know me is I’ve been dating the same girl since before I started Facebook so obviously that’s not part of it. It’s such a big disconnect that the people who make movies think of what people in Silicon Valley do building stuff. They just can’t wrap their head around that someone might build something because they like building things.”
It was pretty interesting to see how they built the website and the company. There are some hard-core coding scenes in the movie that I know the real geeks will relate to. There is also a lot to learn about corporate politics, social politics and networking with the right people at the right time. For me, this movie is about something amazing that’s going on right now and something that we’re all a part of. How exciting is that?!
There has been a lot of criticism about Mark and his views on privacy. I was interested to read this (quite lengthy) New York Books article about the movie, with some insight on the man behind the movie.
What’s striking about Zuckerberg’s vision of an open Internet is the very blandness it requires to function, as Facebook members discovered when the site changed their privacy settings, allowing more things to become more public, with the (unintended?) consequence that your Aunt Dora could suddenly find out you joined the group Queer Nation last Tuesday. Gay kids became un-gay, partiers took down their party photos, political firebrands put out their fires. In real life we can be all these people on our own terms, in our own way, with whom we choose. For a revealing moment Facebook forgot that. Or else got bored of waiting for us to change in the ways it’s betting we will. On the question of privacy, Zuckerberg informed the world: “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”
As unpopular as that opinion is, I tend to agree with it. I love the idea that we can build a whole new world online with different rules and social norms. We need to change society. I believe that the internet is a great tool to connect people and give them power to change their worlds. There is great power in these communities that we are creating online… and I’m often disappointed by how we use and abuse this power.
I dont think Facebook is the solution, but it’s a start. There are already plans to have more open-sourced social networks (see Evly and Diaspora). It’s astonishing how many people that have been on the internet before, are now online thanks to Facebook. This is only the beginning. I don’t know what will happen next in this ongoing story, but I’m pretty excited.
Oh, and go watch the movie. 🙂