Most of the writing and discussion about the movie The Social Network has focused on how factually accurate it is or isn’t. Does it correctly depict events as they happened at the time? Facebook fans and executives have decried it “as a work of fiction” based on a book, The Accidental Billionaires, that admittedly played fast and loose with facts and events.
A critical smash hit, the film has made a respectable but not exemplary $60 million (roughly) to date. It will likely be nominated for “Best Picture.” None of this or its unsympathetic portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has impacted Facebook usage or users in any way it appears. So those who originally feared some sort of backlash against the site can relax.
Despite the factual departures there are deeper truths that the movie presents. (The best Hollywood movies deal in the realm of the mythic or archetypal, which is where the greater “truth” often resides.) Some of the “truths” presented in The Social Network are explored in Joe Nocera’s excellent article about the movie and the contrast between it, its dubious source material and the more “factually correct” but perhaps less compelling and ultimately less “true” homage to Zuckerberg written by David Kirkpatrick.
Nocera focuses on Zuckerberg’s “obsession” and drive that propelled Facebook into existence and beyond its rivals:
At bottom, “The Social Network” is a movie about obsession. That is a large part of the reason I’m so smitten with it: that same obsession that caused Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard to start Microsoft, that drove Steve Jobs to build the first home computer in a garage, that motivated Marc Andreessen to create the first commercial browser while still in school — that’s the story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook too, at least in Mr. Sorkin’s telling. And that obsessional quality is what Mr. Sorkin has captured better than anyone before.
It’s a terrific article that shows how the “facts” behind the Facebook story (and their manipulation) are used to tell a larger and more powerful story about business beginnings and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.