Time Magazine Campaigns for ‘Social Network’ … But Doesn’t Like to Admit It

Newsmagazine chooses Facebook founder as the face of 2010, but at first forgets to mention that movie about him

Last Updated: December 15, 2010 @ 1:07 PM

Here's the craziest thing about Time magazine naming Mark Zuckerberg its 2010 Person of the Year:

Time magazineIn its introductory essay explaining the choice, Time never once mentions "The Social Network."

Instead, the magazine's Richard Stengel quotes Virginia Woolf, talks about transitions in the way we connect with each other, gives Facebook statistics, and explores "a correlation between the size of the cerebral neocortex and the number of social relationships a primate species can have."

All of which is fine and good, but what about the correlation between Time's choice and David Fincher's movie about Zuckerberg, which is currently cutting a swath through every critics award in existence? (Except in San Diego, that is.)

Does anybody think that Zuckerberg would be Time's cover boy if it weren't for "The Social Network?" Or that he'd be more newsworthy now than he was two or three years ago if not for that awards-toting feature film about him? And is Time really going to try to tell us that there's no connection when the issue comes out and we can read what else they say about him?

My answer on the first two counts: no way.

Time's answer on the third, now that the article is available online: nope. 

It takes 12 paragraphs and a page jump to get there, but writer Lev Grossman finally gets around to mentioning that there's a movie out about Zuckerberg. He mentions "The Social Network" in one sentence, says it's very good in the next, and then points out that the character played by Jesse Eisenberg "bears almost no resemblance" to the real Zuckerberg. Then he moves on.

Sports IllustratedStill, this has to be the niftiest bit of Oscar promotion anybody has gotten this year, a mark of the movie's centrality to our times that's far more impressive than any National Board of Review kudo or Tri-State Film Critics Alliance prize.

And Time's sister publication Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, does a similar favor for "The Fighter," plopping Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale on its cover and declaring the David O. Russell drama the best sports movie of the decade.

One question, though: since "The Fighter" is a pretty tough, gritty movie, couldn't SI have chosen a cover image that wasn't quite so cheesy?

Incidentally, "The Social Network" finished fifth on Time's list of the Top 10 films of the year. It trailed "Toy Story 3," "Inside Job," "Never Let Me Go" and "Life During Wartime."