I think I may be the only person on the planet who came away from The Social Network firmly convinced that the Winklevoss twins were the heroes.
At which point my friends (Ashley) laughed so hard they snotted, and chalked it up to being some crazy WASPy quirk, like the Lily Pulitzer sundresses hanging in my closet (I think Narwhal print is underused, because it is). But look, really, I liked the Winklevoss twins. They’re fucking up my defense of them a little bit by writing articles on “10 Fun Facts About Us!” – but I’m not sure that really makes them the villainous douchebags most people portray them as being.
Throughout the movie I think Aaron Sorkin was fairly measured about not showing either of them to be dumb jocks. They seemed as though they didn’t, perhaps, have the savvy to execute the Facebook concept they imagined, but they were certainly clever enough to imagine it. And I think that holds up in real life – it’s fairy indisputable that the Winklevosses did conceive of the concept that eventually became Facebook.
Now, to be fair, there is a question of whether you have to be able to execute something in its entirety for it to qualify as your property. Still, if I, say, wrote the outline of a novel, and showed it to a friend and said “this is the outline of the novel I’m working on” and they copied it down, wrote it, and sold it, I’d be furious. I’d be furious to an extent that I could no longer be friends with them. I would tell everyone I’d ever met that I thought they sucked, and I think a lot of people would probably agree with me (a small group would think that they were entitled to it, because I was weak, and they were strong, but I think we all know some objectivists). I probably wouldn’t sue, but that’s mostly because they would not make a billion dollars off of my concept. Of course, that would be my friend. I would not go around showing something I was privately working on to some random kid who had gained notoriety for making a website to rank women’s appearences and in doing so had indicated that “caring about people’s feelings” wasn’t his strong suit. That would be shockingly naive. But you can’t really dislike people for naivete. And you can’t really hold that against two kids who were in college at the time.
I think you can say that the Winklevoss twins seem less as though they need the money than other people, and I think they are fighting a Bleak House sort of legal battle, but I think their motivation for suing Zuckerberg, and their anger – well, that, I think, is understandable.
And I don’t think the Winklevoss twins became immediately litigious. It doesn’t seem as though they did become litigious until the full ramifications of what was happening became clear, and, moreover, after they’d exhausted every other option.
But what really charmed me – in the movie – was the Winklevoss twins’ notion that people would behave with a certain degree of sportsmanlike conduct. The Winklevosses are depicted as though they genuinely believed that they would approach Mark Zuckerberg, say, “what you did was indecent for the following reasons…” and Mark Zuckerberg would say “Wow. I didn’t look at it from your point of view, fellow students and amiable acquaintances. Let’s come to an amicable solution together.” They expected him to be decent. Which is exactly what I would have believed in college too, and which is, alas, not the way people generally behave in the real world. The Winklevoss twins said they were gentlemen of Harvard, and everyone in the audience laughed, and my heart sort of broke for them. Because I think we all have a moment when you realize that we live in an age where people aren’t gentleman (or gentlewomen), and that they’re not going to prioritize behaving decently over millions and millions of dollars. And I know everyone realizes that, but it’s sad, nonetheless.
And, hell, they’re quite nice looking, aren’t they? And between Dorian Gray and every Disney Movie in the world, I’m pretty sure that means they’re good on the inside.