A few months ago I told my friends (or to clarify, I posted a link on Facebook) that The Social Network had potential to be big. I wasn’t referring to box office returns, although I’m sure it will do just fine there.
It was that a major Hollywood film would actually try to be truthful that surprised me.
I’m probably the exception to the rule that I would walk to my local library as a teenager and rent Ken Burns documentaries, which is a type of film that more young people should be exposed to. (Maybe not Burns’s, but there are many that might appeal to younger audiences.)
Not that The Social Network is a documentary, but screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said that it is not a work of non-fiction at the New York Film Festival.
“Nothing in the movie was invented for the sake of Holywood-izing it or sensationalizing it,” said Sorkin.
The film presents multiple sides of the story based on the accounts of people who were there, many of whom spoke to Sorkin anonymously. So like most reference material it strives to present the facts, but the truth is relative.
As for the big potential, the history of Facebook is one that most people, even those within the tech world, probably aren’t familiar with. The plot, however, could have a major effect on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook because they are so big right now, whereas the majority of films tell of events that are long gone.
The dangerous part is any effects that come about because the film skews what really happened, whether it was on purpose or not.
I’m not saying the filmmakers would do that, although Justin Timberlake was the only one who spoke of the website in a positive light at the New York Film Festival.
Timberlake also stated that like star Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Sorkin, and director David Fincher, he does not have a Facebook account. “I don’t use it, because it was just negative for me, like it is for most people,” said Garfield.
“None of the characters are portrayed in an altogether positive light,” wrote Christine Kearney of Reuters.
Not that amazon reviews are a good gage of a work, but reviews of Ben Mezrich’s book upon which the film is based are divided at best. Professional reviews aren’t so divided, “It’s no secret that Mezrich plays fast and loose with the truth,” wrote Bookmarks Magazine. “Mezrich forsakes the technical and business aspects surrounding the creation of Facebook and instead opts for juicier stories of “hot girls,” all-night celebrity parties, and sex.”
Unlike the film and Mezrich’s book, Zuckerberg did cooperate with the writing of David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect which has received much more positive feedback.
We’ll see what happens when the film is released on Friday; perhaps it won’t be so surprising after all.