To begin with: I liked the movie. I’ve liked most of the movies that David Fincher has made and I think that he’s one of the best directors working currently in Hollywood. But…there was something that bothered me.
We’ve been here before.
I’ve seen the same story again and again in Hollywood productions about Silicon Valley, magazines profiles of big businessmen, puff pieces for any and every magazine you can remember reading or not. Just Hollywood and Silicon Valley have overlapped enough to see multiple, movies, made, about hackers getting too deep into situations they didn’t expect.
The repetition isn’t so bad. I enjoy seeing creative people add something to a shopworn story. I’m just not so sure that The Social Network adds much to the story aside from being hypercurrent.
What bothers me even more is that we, as a culture in America, are so fixated on the latest boy who becomes a billionaire overnight. And this fixation has been with us for at least the last thirty years, since the personal computer revolution. Just look at the cover of Time magazine over the past three decades:
- Apple, Steve Jobs in 1982, 1997, 2002, 2005, and 2010
- IBM, John Opel in 1983
- Microsoft, Bill Gates in 1984, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 1999 again, 2005.
- Netscape, Mark Andreesen - in 1996
- AOL in 1997, 2000
- Intel, Andy Grove Person of the Year in 1997
- Yahoo, Jerry Yang in 1998
- Amazon, Jeff Bezos Person of the Year in 1999
- Silicon Valley in 1999
- Napster, Sean Parker in 2000
- Twitter in 2009
- Facebook in 2010
Every single one of those stories is about a young, white, male kid who has made it big in the technology world. The exceptions to this rule are few and far between. Jerry Yang isn’t white but he was young and male. Neither Andy Grove nor John Opel were young when featured on the cover but they were white and male. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have been featured many times throughout their lives but they both got their first cover shots at a young age in 1984 and 1982, respectively.
The stories we hear in the media and in movies about technology are all cut from the same cloth. We all know there’s a lot more diversity out there in the world; we live with that diversity every day. I just wish we saw some of that diversity on the big screen or at the newsstand.