A while back, I asked our audience who their favorite villain was. My own answer was Lex Luthor, because he’s a nerd. He sees Superman as a potential threat and believes he’s smart enough to eliminate that threat. He gets a little obsessed, but he also gets elected President of the United States. Lex Luthor successfully conquered the free world. Game over. Nerds win.
Hold that thought.
In my second post on this blog, I explained how Mark Zuckerberg is a great example of a nerd. This is made abundantly clear in “The Social Network,” the movie adaptation of the story of Facebook. I love that movie. And yes it’s a nerd subject, because a) Zuckerberg is a nerd, and b) Zuckerberg has more in common with Lex Luthor than having the same actor.
Nerdiness is a superpower. As I’ve said a couple of times before, according to human nature, it’s more realistic for someone with superpowers to be a villain than a hero. The Social Network demonstrates that when you’re as smart and nerdy as Mark Zuckerberg and you stumble on an idea as good as Facebook, it is the easiest thing in the world to screw over everyone around you because they did something to annoy you. If you don’t particularly care about people – a common thing for super-nerds – you can roast marshmallows on the bridges you burn.
Consider Hamilton. In the uber-popular Broadway show, the titular character cheats on his wife with a married woman. How could our hero do such a thing? Because he’s a real person. That happened. This is dramatized, exaggerated history, but history nonetheless.
The Social Network is the same way. Yes, Zuckerberg set his best friend up to take a fall and did all those other questionable things. That’s what would happen, and that’s what did happen, in real life. Zuckerberg is not a conquering hero. He’s basically a supervillain. But we all root for him, and he gets away with everything in the end. A bit like Lex Luthor.
If I was a film geek, I would appreciate the movie’s cinematography and stuff. Regardless, I love the story, because I relate to the main character so much it’s kind of scary. It’s the Nerd Experience – it’s the human experience. It may not be a particularly pleasant thing to contemplate, but it works as a cautionary tale if nothing else.