Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Oscar Bouquets for "The Social Network," as Zuckerberg Readies for the Brickbats

It’s just a post on the popular entertainment blog “Deadline Hollywood.”

But it’s a clear indication the makers of the movie about the origins of Facebook are gunning for maximum attention and Oscar buzz with only a few weeks to go before its debut.

In fact, awards columnist Pete Hammond was pretty much channeling the marketing plan of Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin for “The Social Network,” which has its premiere in New York on September 24 and its wide rollout on October 1.

Rudin–the volcano of a producer about whom I would like to see a biopic like the one he is sticking it to Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg with–has apparently been personally inviting every online chatterbox (not me!) and their mother to screenings of the film from the Sony (SNE) movie unit, Columbia Pictures, in recent weeks.

Writes Hammond:

It’s a smart strategy but even without a personal invitation from one of the film’s producers this is already the current must-see movie on every Oscar watchers list. As an example of that, one blogger actually got on a plane from Toronto to New York just to see Social Network, then headed immediately back to Toronto. His subsequent review was a rave declaring it the one to beat for Best Picture (a little premature on that I think). That’s just one example of the praise now starting to hit the Internet from Hitfix to Slashfilm to Chud and all cyber points inbetween.

A little premature perhaps, but it seems to have worked with Hammond:

I saw it at the first opportunity on Monday and would have to say fairly objectively that The Social Network is Sony’s best shot at Best Picture in years, a lock for Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards. And most importantly, Oscar nominations in every major category including Director for David Fincher, Writing for Aaron Sorkin, lead actor for Jesse Eisenberg (playing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg), Supporting Actor for both Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score, editing and so on. It also looks like it will be a major box office hit, hitting a nerve with the young demographic that are on the front lines of moviegoers…

Despite its high-tech bones, what Fincher and Sorkin have managed to do is tell a time-honored very human story, a social document for a generation that has as much relevance now as movies like On The Waterfront, Network, All The President’s Men, and The Graduate did in their time.

Expect more of the same from those who get sucked up into the marketing machine for “The Social Network” in the next weeks, even though it appears it will be devastating to the real-life version of its main subject, Mark Zuckerberg.

And really, really unfair, according to MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka, by taking one aspect of his personality–awkward arrogance or perhaps arrogant awkwardness–and twisting it into a much deeper malevolence.

I have no doubt in my mind that Zuckerberg pulled an epic geek sandbagging on the clueless Winklevoss twins by promising to work on their goofy concept for a social networking site at Harvard University, then not doing so and working on his own ideas instead.

And, for sure, he had a painfully typical start-up falling-out with his own early partners.

But let’s get real here–they all got paid off plenty for being present at the creation of something they themselves never could have created.

Does anyone honestly believe the Winklevii were capable of making Facebook, or any reasonable facsimile, any more than Zuckerberg was capable of rowing in the Olympics?

While hitting some right notes about Zuckerberg’s mannerisms–conversations with him can be very perplexing–the Mark of “The Social Network” is largely fictional.

Certainly, he has some glaring faults (and so do I!).

But they are no worse that other tech leaders’, from Bill Gates of Microsoft (MSFT) to Steve Jobs of Apple (AAPL) to Silicon Valley’s own twins, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google (GOOG).

Interestingly, the night before what turned out to be a very difficult onstage interview at the eighth D: All Things Digital conference in June, at a dinner just south of Los Angeles, Zuckerberg fretted to me about the film.

“It’s what a lot of people will think I am like, because it’s a movie and that has impact on their perceptions,” he said with a lot of concern in his voice.

I pooh-poohed his complaints and told him not to worry about it too much.

“It’s just a movie,” I said. “No one believes what they see at the movies anymore.”

But as this film chugs along–gaining Oscar velocity right onto the stage of the Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard on February 27, 2011–I can now see Zuckerberg might have been right all along.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work