You all know by now that I’ve never quite been a fan of Facebook. It should come as no surprise, then, what I have to say about the movie.
I thought the filmmaking was brilliant. Strong acting, elegant camerawork, perfect soundtrack, but that’s not quite it.
It would be an understatement to say that the movie’s portrayal of Facebook’s meteoric rise to fame is a denigration of all that I believe about technological innovation, and how it comes about. And before you scoff at how I’ve taken the movie too seriously, why don’t I just grab a beer and chill, have a look at this article.
The coincidence of these 2 phenomena worries me (the article made the NYTimes.com “most popular/most emailed” list for a few days now.) I just want to point out that, the new tech entrepreneur is not an “elevated,” “expansive”, “just crazy enough” hypomaniac. Nor is he some sort of broken soul with a desperate unfathomable emotional need that can only be satisfied through relentless coding and utter subjugation of enemies and rivals.
I know this movie will make much more of an impact that that fleeting article will, which is why I’m targeting it specifically.
When you make a movie like this about a certain company’s young founder, you are making a romantic hero for our generation. This does not happen by accident; this portrayal is orchestrated. Romantic heroes endure in people’s imaginations because that is what they are made to do. And they affect perception.
I do not want to be in a world where people believe potentially world-changing software products happen out of a single thunderous brainstorm, followed by a sleepless night of coding, followed by sex, drugs and power struggles. Yang thinks people are too smart to believe that; I’m willing to concede that yes, it is a hard sell to think that every company is like Facebook. But what about the Seth Priebatsches of the world? Why would a publications like the NYTimes assert this ridiculous notion that there is a “just manic enough” psychological profile of entrepreneurs that predetermines success? And that the only way to implement good ideas is to follow a doggedly evangelical, workaholic-insomniac path to millions and millions of dollars?
The point is, most of the time most normal people in the entrepreneurial tech sector are putting hard work, careful thinking, and skillsets honed over a lifetime behind every inch of progress made in technology. I’m sure even Mark did this, even though the movie does not afford him that much credit. It is not some sassy powerdrunk joyride (okay maybe it was for Mark, to some extent). It is not an accident. It is not an epiphany or an idea that can be stolen. That’s not how the creative process works, and to elevate the singular instance in which it does work that way and then made that instance into the representation of our zeitgeist is to insult the creative work that the rest of us strive daily to do.
That’s all I have to say. It was a good movie otherwise.