TIME fuels the ‘Social Network’ fire

Posted by · 9:26 am · December 15th, 2010

You’ve probably heard by now that Mark Zuckerberg has been named TIME magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year, a selection that couldn’t dovetail any more neatly with “The Social Network”‘s currently roaring Oscar campaign if the film’s publicists had engineered it themselves.

After all, what’s really being acknowledged here: Zuckerberg’s own achievements over the year, or the raised public profile granted him by the success of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s biopic? The time to laud Zuckerberg for the creation of Facebook, no longer the hippest social network on the block, was surely several years ago; this is a testament to the media influence wielded by a single movie.

In turn, the film gets to borrow a measure of the prestige and currency associated with this annual honor: how often can an Oscar contender claim to be about the reigning Person of the Year? Academy voters concerned with the capital-I Importance of their choices can hardly ask for more than that. Well done, everybody.

Meanwhile, TIME writer Lev Grossman discusses the difference between the real Zuckerberg and the screen one:

The Social Network is a rich, dramatic portrait of a furious, socially handicapped genius who spits corrosive monologues in a monotone to hide his inner pain. This character bears almost no resemblance to the actual Mark Zuckerberg. The reality is much more complicated… The Zuckerberg of the movie is a simple creature of clear motivations: he uses his outsize gifts as a programmer to acquire girls, money and party invitations. This is a fiction. In reality, Zuckerberg already had the girl.

You don’t get a lot of shy, retiring types at Facebook. These are the kinds of power nerds to whom the movies don’t do justice: fast-talking, user-friendly, laser-focused and radiating the kind of confidence that gives you a sunburn. Sorkin did a much better job of representing Facebook when he wrote The West Wing.

More here.




→ 23 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

23 responses so far

  • 1 12-15-2010 at 9:36 am

    Hans said...

    WikiLeaks guy or the Tea Party/Palin/Beck would have been much better choices. Huge influences on the year’s news.

  • 2 12-15-2010 at 9:43 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    There are definitely strong arguments for Assange or the Tea Party leaders as “Person of the Year,” but I actually think Zuckerberg is a good choice. Certainly better than some bullshit like “You” or “The American Soldier.”

  • 3 12-15-2010 at 9:50 am

    Hans said...

    I actually quite liked “You,” it was a perfect way of acknowledging the quite astounding revolution in technology and communication that had happened over the short course of a year or two. Acknowledging Zuckerberg then would have been perfect as well, but this just seems redundant now. I am having trouble thinking of others, though, so Zuckerberg would still probably be my #3ish choice.

  • 4 12-15-2010 at 9:53 am

    Maxim said...

    “After all, what’s really being acknowledged here: Zuckerberg’s own achievements over the year, or the raised public profile granted him by the success of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s biopic? The time to laud Zuckerberg for the creation of Facebook, no longer the hippest social network on the block, was surely several years ago; this is a testament to the media influence wielded by a single movie.”

    I strongly disagree with these statements. This has nothing to do with the hippness factor or the movie.

    This has EVERYTHING to do with the unprecedented growth of facebook in the past year, DESPITE the movie and other negative forces. Other names may appear in the media, but none of the has the combined significance of his network.

    The way I see it, Naming Zuckerberg man of the year, makes him the winner and the movie a loser. Not only is he in a totally different chapter of his life/career. If you watched Facebook’s announcements in the past few month you’d know they are busy with all kinds of things. And that’s to say nothing of Zuckerberg’s laterst monitary pledges.

  • 5 12-15-2010 at 10:11 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    Guy, what is currently the hippest social network on the block?

  • 6 12-15-2010 at 10:22 am

    Conor said...

    I’d have to disagree with Grossman’s beef with the film painting Zuckerberg as a socially handicapped genius. He really is pretty awkward.

  • 7 12-15-2010 at 10:25 am

    Keil Shults said...

    Yeah, if there’s a newer AND hipper social networking site, I’m not aware of it. The Facebook numbers are growing, not diminishing, and even people like my mother-in-law are getting in on the act. While that may be a sign that its hipness factor is waning, it also indicates that the site’s popularity is very widespread. In short, it’s becoming a very big part of many people’s lives, for good or ill.

  • 8 12-15-2010 at 10:47 am

    Graysmith said...

    Per Wikipedia, the definition: “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.”

    Honestly, what events did Zuckerberg influence in 2010? The only real Facebook things I can think of this year is the privacy issues back in April/May (certainly not laudable) and a biopic.

    Utterly ridiculous, fucking outrageous that they didn’t choose Julian Assange (or Wikileaks as a whole), who unquestionably had an enormous impact on this year, not just the “500 million” Facebook users.

    Not that Time doesn’t usually make poor picks anyway, but how could they not when there actually was someone that towered over all others in such an enormous way.

  • 9 12-15-2010 at 11:05 am

    Keil Shults said...

    I think you’re underestimating the influence that Facebook is having on people’s daily lives. I’m not going to say Zuckerberg should have been chosen above all others, but I think its naive to suggest that he (and the site he created) had little to no influence on the American people (not to mention other countries, as well).

    I certainly wouldn’t say that it’s ridiculous or outrageous, though I can see why someone who may not use or approve of Facebook might feel that way. But given the widespread use of the site and the success (and press) surrounding the film, it’s perfectly understandable that they might choose him. Plus, the WikiLeaks event came very late in the year, and most people don’t know much about it or how it affects them.

    just sayin’

  • 10 12-15-2010 at 11:42 am

    Graysmith said...

    Wikileaks came late in the year? They dropped the first major bomb in April with the video of a U.S. military helicopter massacring civilians (including two Reuters employees).

    I’m not saying Zuckerberg isn’t deserving of the award period, I’m just saying very little he did this year warrants the award, and as the title of the award stipulates it should relate to this year’s events, not what you did years ago.

  • 11 12-15-2010 at 12:07 pm

    Ibbs said...

    On the whole Zuckerberg vs. Assange issue, I think the fact of the matter remains that Zuckerberg’s creation has proven itself to be a gamechanger where as politics is still the same right now in spite of all the leaks. If the scandal does manage to be a major point of change within the NEXT year, then give it to Assange next year. But a bunch of internet activism doesn’t give the wikileaks story more importance or achievement than it actually did…and to me, the impact of wikileaks so far has proven to be very slight.

  • 12 12-15-2010 at 12:14 pm

    Maxim said...

    Ibbs is dead on. Wikileaks, as important as they are have done very little to actually change anything so far. Reading you argue otherwise is simply laughable.

  • 13 12-15-2010 at 12:17 pm

    Maxim said...

    “[ Assange ] who unquestionably had an enormous impact on this year.”

    In what way?

  • 14 12-15-2010 at 2:20 pm

    Ky said...

    The only thing Assange deserves is a hanging.

  • 15 12-15-2010 at 3:13 pm

    Graysmith said...

    Good god.

    Okay. Instead of me trying to explain something to deaf ears, how about telling me what Mark Zuckerberg did THIS year (and ONLY THIS year) to warrant being named Person of the Year. This is not an award meant for Lifetime Achievement, it’s strictly meant for this year, 365 days. Tell me, I’m eager to hear you make shit up.

  • 16 12-15-2010 at 3:15 pm

    Graysmith said...

    Actually, scratch that. I’m not at all eager to hear what you may say. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t do shit this year to warrant any such award.

  • 17 12-15-2010 at 3:52 pm

    key lime said...

    You’re taking this way too literally, GS. More often than not, this is less about the things the person has actually done than the mood/state of the country/world he/she/they represent.

  • 18 12-15-2010 at 5:13 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    I’m still waiting for Guy to tell me what the hippest social network site is so I can start using it.

  • 19 12-15-2010 at 6:42 pm

    ret said...

    @Matthew Starr:

    “I’m still waiting for Guy to tell me what the hippest social network site is so I can start using it.”

    Emmm can i answer it? It’s TWITTER.

  • 20 12-15-2010 at 7:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Really, how is Facebook changing our lives? If it’s changing YOUR life, then maybe that’s something you should address. For me, it’s generally a tab I leave open and forget for half the day.

    Twitter, on the other hand, I use quite frequently.

    Assange would have been a more applicable choice.

  • 21 12-15-2010 at 7:35 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    Kris,

    Facebook is a much more dominant force right now than Twitter and will be for a while. You use Twitter quite frequently as do most journalists, bloggers and people really into film and media.

    Most of my friends who don’t fit any of those categories do not use Twitter, but use Facebook.

  • 22 12-15-2010 at 9:55 pm

    daveylow said...

    Since I spend most of my day writing and editing on a computer the last thing I want to do in my spare time is Twitter. Facebook hasn’t changed my life but I do check in daily to see what some of my friends who don’t live near me are up to.

    The Time cover just made me tired of hearing about Facebook one more time. I doubt if it will affect the Oscar race but if I see one more story about Facebook in the news I’ll scream.

  • 23 12-16-2010 at 6:17 am

    Maxim said...

    ““[ Assange ] who unquestionably had an enormous impact on this year.”

    In what way?”

    I am calling your bluff, Gray. Answer the question or admit that you cannot.

    ” Mark Zuckerberg didn’t do shit this year to warrant any such award.”

    Yes, except he made or approved all of the decisions (and there had been a lot of changes) in what is by far the most important aspect of online lives of hundreds of millions of young people around the world.