Random Factoid #556

4 02 2011

How did Mark Zuckerberg turn what looked like a PR nightmare 5 months ago into what’s now a PR bonanza?  “The Social Network” was supposed to make him look like an anti-social a-hole to the moviegoing public has made him a celebrity and household name, something surprising given the site’s country-sized population.  There’s no way that he would have been named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year had it not been for the movie.

Danielle Berin offers up this theory:

“Oh what a difference an awards season makes. In the five months since opening, the film has lapped up box office success and critical acclaim, and, along the way, Zuckerberg’s image has undergone elaborate transformation. The once Machiavellian Harvard student has become the philanthropic humanitarian…. What began as a negative spin on Zuckerberg and his haughty conquer-the-world attitude had transformed into the most celebratory and useful publicity both Zuckerberg and his company have seen since Facebook’s founding. And to think, all it took was a little Oscar buzz. OK, a lot of Oscar buzz. The past few months of award-winning and Oscar campaigning have done more than cement the genius of the film’s cast and creators. Because of the spotlight cast on Zuckerberg, the young entrepreneur has had a chance to prove he isn’t the socially inept anti-hero portrayed by Eisenberg, but, rather, a benevolent titan of the digital age.”

Patrick Goldstein of The Big Picture wrote this:

“My theory is that all this kumbaya tub-thumping wasn’t just a spontaneous outpouring of awards-season good cheer. It was more likely the product of shrewd Oscar-season strategizing. Sorkin and ‘Social Network’ producer Scott Rudin were forging this rapprochement for one reason and one reason only–they believe that having an appearance of harmony between the film and its subject will help ‘Social Network”s Oscar chances. If Zuckerberg was still running around, bitching and moaning about his portrayal, as he was doing around the time of the film’s release last fall, it would inspire a new round of inflammatory media hit pieces about the film’s veracity, stories that could only do damage to the film’s Oscar chances.”

Either way, this whole ride for Zuckerberg has been fascinating to watch unfold.  I will say that five months ago, I never would have seen this coming.  Heck, the real Mark Zuckerberg could be the true underdog story of the Oscar race.

It’s always nice when we get a surprise.  I get so sick of hackneyed Hollywood plotlines being lived out by celebrities.


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