As alluded to in the previous post on Harper’s, the would-be elitist magazine has had great problems in adapting to that wonderful invention of Al Gore the Defense Department called the Internet. Mickey Kaus notes in his new gig at Newsweek that Aaron Sorkin, another self-styled elitist and a rather bitter and/or clinging one at that, has had his own issues with the Web as well.
Mickley links to a post on the mangled history in Sorkin’s new movie, The Social Network, by Richard Rushfield at The Awl (say, would CNN approve of that site’s name?):
The film’s misstatements have been well documented. The jilted love affair that drives Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook is invented. The resentment against the Harvard elite clubs that drives him to create an alternate society is invented. The claims of others involved in the creation of Facebook are given vastly too much credence in the film. Zuckerberg is portrayed as an angry, vengeful sociopath, which by most accounts and all appearances, he is not.
But other than that, it says a lot of fascinating things about the era.
A dramatic work need not be faithful to every fact of history. We do not expect dramatic films to be moment-for-moment, not-a-hair-touched recreations of history. Even documentaries are forced to exercise some altering power in deciding what to leave in and what to cut.
But what we do expect, and regarding which we should not compromise, is that when a film purports to be a telling of actual events and the lives of real-life people, it gets the basic facts of those events and people right. Or at the very least tries! A biopic about Marie Curie and the discovery of radium, if it purports to tell the actual story, will not show the great scientist dressing in bearskin rugs to get in touch with her atomic nature and taking hot air balloon rides up the Amazon in search of a legendary molecule, unless it is clearly indicated that this is a fantasia of Marie Curie, not meant to be a realistic telling of actual events. (See: I’m Not There.)
The Social Network offers no such disclaimers. In a narrative punctuated by legal deposition, it strives for hyper-realism, suggesting strongly that these events did happen as they are being shown. In doing so, it far exceeds the limits of any commonly understood dramatic license.
So in other words, the standard Hollywood approach to history.