How Accurate Is: The Social Network (Movie, 2010) Part 2

Facebook's headquarters beginning in 2009, a far cry from their newest building, which has an entire park on the roof.
Facebook’s headquarters beginning in 2009, a far cry from their newest building, which has an entire park on the roof.

Hello everyone! Because I know you are tired of this site only ever pointing out mistakes, today I am going to do a post on the things The Social Network did right. Please do not assume my previous post means the movie was entirely inaccurate; all this website tries to do is educate people on historical inaccuracies so that their views of historical events are not coloured by inaccuracies in popular media. With that said, here are several things that the movie did well.

  • The emails and blog posts present in the beginning of the film appear to have been quoted exactly as written; these were not dramatizations for the purposes of the plot.[1]
  • The depiction of Facemash crashing the Harvard networks was partially accurate; the Harvard Crimson says “traffic to the website was so heavy that [Zuckerberg] could not even log on to his own computer.”[2]
  • Zuckerberg’s anecdote about constructing a program that Microsoft wanted to buy appears to have been accurate; the program in question was named Synapse. Also true is the fact that he turned them down.[3]
  • The role of Eduardo in the business appears to have been related correctly, regardless of any disputes about the nature of his eviction from the company; he was, in fact, the first investor in the company.[4]

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How Accurate Is: The Social Network (Film, 2010) Part 1

A poster for The Social Network.
A poster for The Social Network.

Hello everyone! Today, I decided to do a post that will examine a very contemporary topic; the film The Social Network. This 2010 film, written by Aaron Sorkin, takes a dramatic look at the founding story of Facebook. Yes, this is much more recent than some of the other movies and television featured in recent posts, and it is therefore certainly difficult to decide how much credence to lend the different sides of the story; however, this post will mainly aim to clear up some major misconceptions created by the film’s portrayal of many central characters.

  • To begin, as in any movie, many characters were simply left out to facilitate the plot; for example, Adam D’Angelo, a friend of Zuckerberg’s and briefly Facebook’s CTO, was not present in the film.[1]
  • Similarly, the portrayal of Zuckerberg’s character as a social loner was somewhat inaccurate; he has been dating the same woman, Priscilla Chan, since 2005 and the two are now married.[2]
    • Facemash appears to have been mostly accurate, but there is nothing specifically mentioning him breaking up with a girlfriend; there was something about a girl included in his original blog, however. Furthermore, he created it in a week, not a night, and he was certainly not drunk that entire time.[3]
  • Even those who received favourable treatments by the film have rights to be annoyed. For example, instead of angrily moping as in the film, the real-life Winklevoss twins actually went out and founded their own company, ConnectU. This was the entity through which they eventually sued Zuckerberg, but the company was not particularly successful and has now been so thoroughly lost to history that it does merit so much as a mention in the film.[4]
  • Other, smaller, inaccuracies also proliferate. The most egregious example is the scene near the close of the film where Sean Parker is arrested after being caught with drugs (and underage interns) during the million-user party for Facebook; although the bones of the story are true (Parker was arrested after cocaine was found in a vacation home he was renting), most of the story was simply made up for effect.[5]

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How Accurate Is: The Tudors (TV Show, 2007-2010) S1E3

Charles V (and a dog).
Charles V (and a dog).

Hello everyone! Today I am going to do another post on The Tudors, this time on the third episode of the first season. There is less to discuss in this post than the previous one because it appears that the show is going to continue willfully changing history, as mentioned in my previous post. This episode, incidentally, took place directly after the previous one, which is evident because Charles V visited England to sign the Treaty of Windsor in 1522, while the Duke of Buckingham was executed in 1521.[1] Here, then, are some of the changes made by this episode.

  • For one thing, no sister of Henry VIII married or was intended to marry the King of Portugal, as depicted in this episode. In real life, Margaret spent most of her life in Scotland, having been the Queen of Scotland during the life of James IV, her husband, and the Queen Regent during the childhood of James V, her son.[2]
  • Charles Brandon was indeed made the Duke of Suffolk, as shown in this episode, but in 1514 after the successful war with Scotland, not in 1522 as depicted in this episode.[3]
  • While Henry did write a pamphlet denouncing Luther, it was published in 1521 and written even earlier; this would place the writing outside the scope of this episode. This is a fairly minor error but is an error nonetheless.[4]
  • Anne Boleyn only caught the eye of Henry in 1526, not 1522 as was depicted in this episode.[5]

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How Accurate Is: The Prague Cemetery (Book, Umberto Eco, 2010) Part 1

Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco

(Warning: spoilers are present here. They are present everywhere. Also, I get that I am using two referencing systems here; I apologize if this annoys anyone, but hey, that is one of the perks of having your own website: you get to reference things however you want! That said, if anyone finds them truly offensive and/or inaccurate, please let me know.)

Hello everyone! Today’s post is going to be on The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco, published in 2010. This is a well-crafted piece of historical fiction, and so I am likely going to spend more time detailing what this book did right than what it did not, not that that is a bad thing.

The Prague Cemetery is set in the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, and partly focuses on conspiracies in European history- from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to anti-Freemason rantings, this book has it all. At the same time, it dips heavily into the actual historical events of the period. The book begins in Italy prior to unification and ends in France in the 1920s. The protagonist is certainly an unusual choice for a main character; a professed Anti-Semite, the opening pages of the novel (which takes the form of a diary) are comprised of a vicious tirade against, in this order, Jewish people, Germans, Italians, Frenchmen (and women), Jesuits, and Masons, with scattered other racial stereotypes (“vain as a Spaniard… unwashed as an Englishman”) thrown in for good measure. In short, the main character is neither likeable nor a particularly accurate narrator. This, however, is the central conceit of the novel; the protagonist is slowly recovering his memory of the events he has had a hand in over the years, which range from the Italian Wars of Unification to the creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The sheer range of events present in the book means that I will likely do several posts on it. Therefore, I will begin at the beginning- the treatment of the Italian Wars of Unification in the book. Continue past the link (Next time I promise there will be some actual information before the link) for more.

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