The Social Network and the World We Live In

Posted by on November 4th, 2010 at 11:39 PM

Bear with me, this will make sense in a second.

While watching the movie The Social Network (I’ve been absent and thus will be behind for a while) something occurred to me from the history of comics, among other things.  That is, it seems to me that in most circumstances it’s the guy who puts up the seed money who winds up owning the mass culture phenomenon and the one who creates it who winds up with 2% of nothing.  It’s not something many people seem to have noticed because in the scheme of the movie Mark Zuckerberg is supposed to have gained the world but lost his soul, but unless I’m missing something just about everything about Facebook that made it a success was created by him, or was something he saw the value of when nobody else did.

The recent movie character the Mark Zuckerberg of The Social Network puts me in mind of is Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (not a real guy, but they tell me the Zuckerberg of the movie is not exactly the real guy either).  Everybody who reviewed There Will Be Blood figured it was saying something about capitalism, but none of them seemed to understand what it was.  In the movie the basis of Plainview’s fortune is that he controls the means of production.  He has a near-monopoly on the means because the knowledge required to control it could be gained only through personal peril.  His philosophy is that since the mineral wealth in the ground is worthless without his knowledge, then he ought to be able to get it without paying for it.  The possibility that his knowledge is worthless without any mineral wealth to drill for falls outside of his philosophy.  Therefore he is unwilling to share the least bit of the bounty created, even if it will save him trouble in the long run.  It is not so much a matter of greed with him but a matter of principle.  He is aided in enforcing this principle by the Rule of Sticky Fingers:  Money tends to remain in the hands of the first person to receive it unless an external force is applied.  This is the rule by which the entertainment business has been governed for the last century.

Comics relevance, comics relevance . . . oh I know – that Andrew Garfield is going to be a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire ever was.

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