Facebook’s co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moscovitz have both expressed some measure of disapproval where the highly anticipated film The Social Network is concerned…..
They say history is written by the victors, but the reality is that Hollywood prefers a sexy story. The upcoming movie, “The Social Network,” is based on the semi-fictionalized accounts of those jilted during the founding of Facebook. Starring Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield (who’s about to be the next Spider-Man), written by Andrew SorkinAaron Sorkin, directed by David Fincher, produced by Kevin Spacey, scored by Trent Reznor, and about a massive cultural phenomenon, there’s a good chance people are actually going to pay attention to this movie.
“The Social Network,” due in theaters October 1, was inspired by “The Accidental Billionaires,” an unauthorized, dramatized account billed as a non-fiction work by Ben Mezrich, who popularized the (similarly embellished) story of MIT students taking over Vegas in “Bringing Down the House.” Mezrich’s book is told from the perspective of three early influences on Facebook who were screwed out of their roles in the company by founder CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Tyler Winklevoss (who, along with his brother, informally hired Zuckerberg to build a similar site, which Zuckerberg bailed on while creating and launched what was then called thefacebook; they sued and received $65 million), Eduardo Saverin (Zuckerberg’s Harvard friend who financed the early days of the company and was diluted out of his stake after it raised outside funding) and Sean Parker (who was Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley role model, but was kicked out of the company after getting busted at a party where there were drugs and an underage Facebook employee).
“It is interesting to see my past rewritten in a way that emphasizes things that didn’t matter,” he wrote — “things that didn’t matter” referring to a breach of contract/IP theft lawsuit brought by fellow Harvard students Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss in 2004.
If you read Mezrich’s book proposal, which was passed around online in 2008, you get all of the sex, drugs and rock and roll that’s spread out across those 250 pages — pitched with even more exaggeration than in the actual text, to my reading. In fact, Mezrich’s proposal was so appealing, much of the movie was apparently based on it alone.
Zuckerberg is no angel, but the book is not fact either. A Hollywood version of it is going to be even further from the truth. And that’s more or less fine when we’re talking about some dead president or famous composer, but these Facebook events happened only five years ago. Now the social network is a highly present, relevant and still-evolving part of many people’s lives. Mark Zuckerberg is already pretty well antagonized in the public eye for his positions on privacy, his success at a young age and his awkwardness. I wonder what happens if the leading perception of him is based on trumped-up anecdotes about immature antics, creating a site to get laid and ruthlessly casting aside his best friends.
“The plot of the book/script unabashedly attack him, 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.”
Facebook, to date, has made minimal comments about the book and movie. It’s clear the company doesn’t know what to make of it — and that could come back to haunt them. The company declined to say whether it has figured out a PR strategy, should the movie set off a backlash. (Though of course, many current and former Facebook employees are intrigued to see themselves and their coworkers portrayed.)
Moscovitz currently heads up Asana, a Silicon Valley startup who counts a few Facebook and Googleheavy-hitters among its staff. When not drinking and carousing with coeds, they build project management software.
Though the Mezrich book debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times Non-fiction Bestseller List, its story of excess and betrayal has not been the leading narrative about Facebook. Much more interesting has been the site’s quick and continuing growth, its problems with privacy and the ways people use it. Not exactly drama befitting a Hollywood blockbuster. But when you start seeing bus posters and TV commercials with the face of a certain former boy-band frontman (Timberlake plays the similarly curly haired Parker)… well, people may actually watch this movie. And Mark Zuckerberg is going to be a household name in an entirely different way than before.
What do you think of the trailers so far? How would you feel if someone made a movie about you and your company? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.