The Social Network: a duty to the truth

One of the most memorable lessons in school was when I defended Richard III. I won my case easily – in my mind owing to the smooth, confident delivery of my rhetoric – but actually, most likely, because the man was innocent. In all likelihood, he did not murder the Princes in the Tower. Another monarch – Henry VII – had the means, motive and opportunity – but history has blamed Richard III because Henry’s granddaughter was on the throne at the time of Shakespeare and it just wasn’t prudent to piss her off. Thus Shakespeare branded the king a child-killer and everyone believed him.

I always felt rather angry about the whole thing: that a fictional depiction of a real person could be so cruelly wrong and yet become the accepted truth.



As the BBC reports in its article on Facebook biopic The Social Network, “Hollywood and film-makers in general when they are doing biopics have a duty to the truth,” says Dennis Bingham, author of Whose Lives Are They Anyway?: The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre. “There are films that go over the line and distort the truth.”

I haven’t seen Fincher’s movie yet, though I’m sure I will, but it saddens me if the arrogant sociopath the film apparently depicts is really the good-natured guy his associates claim him to be. He hasn’t – and to some extent couldn’t – make a public statement saying, “Hey, I’m a nice person!”, which puts Mark Zuckerberg in an awful position. How do you defend yourself against being branded an asshole?

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