The movie about the founding of Facebook (The Social Network) premiered a few weeks ago, spawning a deluge of fawning blogs as well as a fair number of video spoofs. Even though some would say it paints a very dark picture of reclusive FB founder Mark Zuckerberg, it has actually catapulted him into the celebrity spotlight in ways both predictable and weird.
In the unexpected bucket, paparazzi have positioned themselves outside of MZ's Palo Alto California home. It must be thrilling for the unwashed lensmeisters to stalk a billionaire genius nerd instead of their usual drunken starlets.
This past weekend featured a Saturday Night Live skit, an interview actually, which was mildly amusing and inoffensive enough that the real Zuckerberg posted a status update on his Facebook page proclaiming it "funny".
Yesterday the Social Networking blog "Mashable" uploaded an article about a recent study which tried to determine whether the Social Network movie had a positive or negative effect on the Facebook brand. And by the way, Hell to the Yes, I find this crap interesting, and now you may all start screaming at me to get a life. I would have predicted that the movie would have zero impact on Facebook brand perception one way or another, since the site is as huge as a spinning galaxy, and not subject to the normal laws of physics or marketing. In fact, the study shows that brand perception for Facebook actually increased for people 18-34 just after the movie's release. Power and celebrity trumps loyalty for young adults any day of the week.
We should mention at this time, that there is a bit of a backlash happening over the portrayal of women in The Social Network movie. Unlike their brilliant, code writing, start-up founding male counterparts, the women are mostly shown to be party animals and pinheads...mere props for the crazed geeks they adore. Granted the movie was trying to paint a picture of a particular time, but come on...why does media always depict women in tech and Silicon Valley as Martini swigging arm candy, like some sort of Mad Men fantasy from 50 years ago? Christine Whitman founded eBay, made a gazillion dollars, and is running for governor in California. The #2 (to Zuckerman) person at Facebook is a woman, COO Sheryl Sandberg. All three founders of the hot start up BlogHer (where I work!) are women, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins and Elisa Camahort Page. Nevertheless, the stats still show that far fewer of the XX chromosome crowd are studying Computer Science and software Engineering in college. According to the U.S. Department of Education, for the class of 1999–2000 undergraduates, 11% of men and 2% of women majored in engineering, and 13% of men and 6% of women majored in computer science. Another study of 2007-2008 computer science students shows that in these programs, around 17.6% of students awarded bachelor degree are women.
All of this Facebook mania leads me to wonder which of the Zuckerman portrayals is the most compelling; the movie version, as portrayed by Jessie Eisenberg, the Saturday Night Live version from this past weekend or the real deal, as interviewed by a really clueless Diane Sawyer on ABC News. Which one do you "like" or "unlike" the best?
The Saturday Night Live Skit:
The Social Network Movie Trailer: (Most notable for its soaring choral rendition of Radio Head's classic song "Creep")
The Diane Sawyer Interview on ABC: