At first he ignored the existence of the smash-hit movie that's 85 percent about how much he's a socially maladjusted jerk. But now Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a smart PR move, has confirmed that he'd brought his employees to a screening (complete with post-viewing apple martinis, a nice touch referencing a scene in the film), and is finally breaking his silence about "The Social Network."
[Related: Secrets of the Facebook film]
At a relaxed "startup school" session at Stanford University, Zuckerberg took questions from the audience and, inevitably, that movie came up. Like countless techies familiar with "the Facebook story" have been saying since the film was released, Zuckerberg pointed out how far removed it is from reality:
Zuckerberg was asked about the difference between the movie and what he experienced while creating Facebook. "Where do you want to start?" he asked. Every shirt and fleece worn by the actor (Jesse Eisenberg) who played him was one he had actually worn, Zuckerberg said. The movie got a lot of stuff wrong and random details right, he said.
Reviewing the film thematically, Zuckerberg said it featured a girl who was not part of his real life. In the movie she dumped him, which, he joked, happened to him often. "They framed it as if I wanted to get girls or into some social institution," Zuckerberg said. "I've been dating the same girl since before Facebook." He concluded that the filmmakers "can't wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things."
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's decision to turn Zuckerberg's motivation for creating Facebook into an angry response to being dumped by a girl is the film's central conceit, but that's not even close to how it actually happened. (Jessica Alona, the woman at whom he [now infamously] lashed out on his blog is real, but whatever relationship the two had is unclear.) David Kirkpatrick, with whom Zuckerberg spoke at length for another book about Facebook ("The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World"), describes Zuckerberg in a Daily Beast article as "one of the least angry people I've ever met." Kirkpatrick writes:
"Zuckerberg was seldom without a girlfriend even before Thefacebook. And shortly before Thefacebook launched, the real-life Zuckerberg began seriously dating a girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, with whom he lives today. He was with her during almost all the events portrayed in the movie."
Addressing claims that the film's central players were hostile to women, Sorkin has decried the misogyny of his characters, but with the possible exception of FaceMash (the application Zuckerberg created in one night at Harvard in a pique of frustration) there's no history of that behavior at all from Zuckerberg or any of the Facebook founders. Sorkin made it all up to give his story a framing device. That's fine, of course: No one's claiming "The Social Network" is a documentary. But still, if Zuckerberg is annoyed that a guy who dislikes the Internet tells the entire moviegoing universe a made-up story about how a world-changing website was created to get back at the woman who dumped him, we can see why the Facebook founder might be a little upset about that.
See a clip from "The Social Network."
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