Leftists hate movies about business, because they don’t understand its function and believe wealth is generated by redistributing it from rich people who “appropriated” it from the masses.
Leftists love movies about lawyers, because litigation is the primary means by which they can take down prosperous corporations and “spread the wealth around.”
No business venture was ever launched on the primary basis of deciding who would get what profits if the undertaking were successful. No litigation to determine who gets what for his role in a venture was ever instrumental in helping an undertaking succeed.
“The Social Network,” the recent film about the founding of Facebook, could have been an exciting, uplifting, inspiring, rags-to-riches story about a young entrepreneur who started a $25 billion company and became the youngest billionaire ever, and the creative steps he went through in solving thorny design, implementation, and managerial problems.
Instead, Hollywood has given us a nasty, cynical, exploitative yarn about slimy people harassing and suing the pants off one another, excruciating and embarrassing depositions taken and disputed, and flimsy contracts and partnerships violated and dissolved.
To the extent that “The Social Network” is engaging, it’s like watching a 12-car pileup, where the cars are driven by obnoxious social climbers and rapacious lawyers.
The development of the Facebook site and its spreading use around the world should have been the main story of the film, with the ugly legal wrangling just blips in the background. Instead, the film puts the malicious finger-pointing and backstabbing front and center, with details about the creation of the site mere interludes between the bickering.
Maybe a movie focusing only on the virtuoso creation of Facebook wouldn’t have been enough of a film—maybe Facebook simply isn’t that monumental an achievement. But that doesn’t mean a film dwelling on the legal fallout is a keeper either.
Despite the conflicting accounts in the media, two things are clear from the film and its back story: Mark Zuckerberg is an enterprising, hardworking, ambitious, and talented young programmer, and he is arrogant.
Beyond that, nothing matters. Would the public have preferred that Zuckerberg not develop Facebook but sing in the choir? I don’t know Zuckerberg, and I don’t care whether I know him—I can enjoy the products of his success without having to interact with him.
Furthermore, people who don’t succeed are always tearing down those who do—witness the swarm of Bill Gates and Martha Stewart-bashers who crawled out of the woodwork to badmouth these titans after they became rich and famous. To paraphrase one lawyer in the film, 85% of Zuckerberg’s opponents’ claims are probably exaggerated and the other 15% perjury.
As Debbie Schlussel notes , “Some reports say that Zuckerberg was even more loathsome than portrayed in the movies but because of potential litigation from him, his ‘character’ was toned down. Others say it’s a hatchet job. So, what was made up and what is real? We won’t know for certain, and that’s the problem. Zuckerberg and the Facebook people didn’t cooperate with the project—and who can blame them?”
The fictional Zuckerberg sums up the situation well in the following quote , the best speech from the film, in response to an opponent’s lawyer’s query as to why Mark is staring out the window: “I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try—but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention—you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.”
Some might say that director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin are simply giving moviegoers what they want: a juicy, insider, semi-improvised tale about parties viciously battling to take credit for a hugely popular invention.
But the public is certainly capable of appreciating well-made, non-contentious dramas about business, as witnessed by the success of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” which is now filming its eleventh season.
Of course we need the law in this country. Legal dramas can certainly be compelling. But couldn’t there be just one business movie for every 10 lawyer movies slithering out of Hollywood? (And I don’t include the “Wall Street” franchise—I’m talking about movies that portray businessmen as something other than soulless monsters.)
It’s fortunate for the filmmakers that “The Social Network” came out now, because no one will care about the litigious story behind Facebook in 10 years. The filmmakers have crassly capitalized on prurient buzz, and in doing so they haven’t made a lasting film.