Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The Facebook Movie's First Review Is Boffo: Here's How Mark Zuckerberg Can Take Back the Mojo

Apparently, the review is in–only one review, so far–but it’s a corker.

Although “The Social Network,” the Columbia Pictures movie about the origins of Facebook, is not coming out until its premiere at the New York Film Festival in October, Scott Foundas, a reviewer for its publication, Film Comment, is loving it in a piece in the September issue.

The magazine operates under the auspices of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which throws the film event where “The Social Network” is debuting.

After a lot of film reviewer throat-clearing about not using social networking tools, harrumphing on its global implications and then bizarrely boiling Facebook down to being “born of a romantic rejection,” Foundas writes in the review titled “Revenge of the Nerd”:

This is very rich material for a movie on such timeless subjects as power and privilege, and such intrinsically 21st-century ones as the migration of society itself from the real to the virtual sphere–and David Fincher’s “The Social Network” is big and brash and brilliant enough to encompass them all….

Adapted by “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin from Ben Mezrich’s nonfiction best-seller “The Accidental Billionaires,” “The Social Network” was one of those “buzz” scripts that seemed to be on everyone’s lips in Hollywood for the past couple of years, and it’s easy to understand why. The writing is razor-sharp and rarely makes a wrong step, compressing a time-shifting, multi-character narrative into two lean hours, and, perhaps most impressively, digests its big ideas into the kind of rapid-fire yet plausible dialogue that sounds like what hyper computer geeks might actually say (or at least wish they did): Quentin Tarantino crossed with Bill Gates.

Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Now, I am beginning to feel bad for CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, because it looks like this film might even be Oscar-worthy for Columbia’s Sony (SNE) bosses.

But more:

From a legal perspective, it’s a thorny case of he-said/he-said, though the movie is less concerned with assigning blame than with considering Zuckerberg’s precise degree of assholedom, or lack thereof….But to the sure nervousness of the studio, and the potential discomfort of some viewers, Fincher and Sorkin chart a more treacherous course straight down the middle of Zuckerberg’s many contradictions, one in which there are no obvious winners or losers, good guys or bad–only a series of highly pressurized social (and genetic) forces.

Oh, dear, a treacherous course, well charted.

Lest I seem to suggest otherwise, I hasten to add that “The Social Network” is splendid entertainment from a master storyteller, packed with energetic incident and surprising performances (not least from Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker, who’s like Zuckerberg’s flamboyant, West Coast id). It is a movie of people typing in front of computer screens and talking in rooms that is as suspenseful as any more obvious thriller. But this is also social commentary so perceptive that it may be regarded by future generations the way we now look to “Gatsby” for its acute distillation of Jazz Age decadence.

Oh, dear, Gatsby, and back to fabulous. May I have the envelope, please…

What to do then?

Here are BoomTown’s five steps to reclaim the ground in this seemingly surefire Hollywood invasion of Silicon Valley.:

1.) Even though he looked at me like I was tripping, I wasn’t kidding when I recently told Zuckerberg to attend the New York premiere. With me! (Elliot can come only if he keeps a lid on it.)

If Zuckerberg attends, he is the story, sucking the oxygen away from the movie itself, especially if he looks fly and laughs a lot.

A tux, going up to the actor who plays him and saying the resemblance is astonishing and general self-deprecation can go a long way.

Especially when you are the only one who ended up a soon-to-be billionaire, including the moviemakers and their bosses.

2.) Throw a movie night at Facebook for the staff–and make it a double feature with the excellent “Catfish,” about a scammer on the social networking site.

Then, lead a discussion group about the fact versus fiction. Ignoring this film, especially if it is a hit, does not make its impact go away.

Invite the filmmakers and all the players from back then to talk too–Winklevii alert, but this time Zuck has security! To be sure, this is a risky one, given Zuckerberg’s sometime awkwardness in public.

3.) Unveil all the original documents–and I mean all–about those years, making them available on Facebook for all to see. The Winklevoss case and others are settled now, so there seems little need to hide what was clearly a rocky start.

If Zuckerberg and Facebook truly believe in transparency, use the movie to get it all out there and be done with it.

4.) The ignoring-it option seems only available to an island like Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs, who truly does not care what people think of him. On the other hand, Zuckerberg surely and clearly does.

If he wants to take the company public, why not practice with intense scrutiny here, as these incidents at the origin of Facebook are still not purged from the company.

5.) After it’s all over, live well. It’s apparently the best revenge. (Also, at least “The Social Network” is going to be much more interesting than the Google (GOOG) Movie.


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