We used to wait until people were dead to do bio-flicks about them. It seems this way of thinking has become old fashion.
On thursday night I saw The Social Network, a film which tells the story of Facebook founders Mark Zuckerburg and Eduardo Saverin. It was very well done, and because of that, I think it's fairly safe to assume that it's going to be a pretty big hit amongst both avid movie goers and Facebook users. Upon finishing the movie and exiting the theater, I began to wonder how accurate the movie actually was and in my own research, using highly credible sources like wikipedia, and a fairly lengthy Vanity Fair article regarding Sean Parker, I found that taking Aaron Sorkin's script as one would an objective reporters column, would be one hell of a mistake.
In doing my independent 'research' I learned two things that caused me to question the Social Networks motives: 1) no members of the Facebook staff were interviewed by anyone involved in the movie and 2) the script is roughly based on a book by Ben Mezrich entitled The Accidental Billionaires, a book which the New York Times labeled as being more 'juicy gossip' than actual reporting. It's also interesting to note that the one consultant to Mezrich when he was writing the book which the movie is based on, was Eduardo Saverin, who most would say is the protagonist in the film. He is portrayed as virtuous, honest and wholesome, all attributes which bare a stark contrast to the characteristics of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's versions of Zuckerburg and Parker, both of whom are represented as people who seem to be motivated more by fame, greed and power than anything else.
Here's what's troubling me: It's very likely that Sorkin's version of the story is equal parts rubbish and truth, and that an entire generation of people, who don't bother to or don't care to do some individual research will grow up thinking that this is how events truly transpired, and the reputations of two people (Parker and Zuckerburg) will forever be tarnished because of it. I cannot say I know if this is a truly objective representation of what happened, or if it's complete crap, but what I can say, is that when dealing with someone's reputation, one should be as careful as possible. A damaged reputation, especially one damaged by false accusations, can ruin lives. Mark Zuckerburg, Eduardo Saverin and Sean Parker are all people. Yes, they have more money than most people will ever make if they lived their lives ten times, but as we all know, money doesn't fix everything.
Don't get me wrong, sometimes people need to get their feelings hurt. I'm not a pacifist. But why can't we count on our close friends to do that for us in private when we need it? Why can't we just wait until people die before we make movies about them like we did in the old days?