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Geniuses

I don’t have a great deal of respect for Mark Zuckerberg or George Lucas. It’s not that they’re bad people or anything. Or maybe they are for all I know, but they seem nice enough. My problem with them lies in the fact that they’re hailed as geniuses, as if their success was all part of their plan. It wasn’t. They’re accidental billionaires.

And that’s awesome for them. I got no beef with that. America: What a country! It’s the whole “genius” thing that irks me, makes my skin crawl. We should be more careful whilst heaping superlatives.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Ok, check this out.

The only reason anyone cares about George Lucas is because of Star Wars. One movie. 34 years ago. He deserves credit for the idea, but the idea was really to modernize someone else’s idea. Much like the current crop of American musclecars, Star Wars was a repackaging of retro products adorned with the latest technology. We know this because Lucas admits it. Frequently. It was supposed to be like the cliffhanger serials he watched as a kid. No movie is completely original, but Star Wars was a deliberate homage. So his brilliant idea boiled down to taking other people’s ideas and updating them via talented people with skills and technology he didn’t understand.

Lucas also gets undeserved credit for acquiring the merchandizing rights to Star Wars, but once again the reason it made him a lot of money was not the reason why he wanted them. It was another happy accident. To him it was a hedge in case the studio refused to market the movie to his satisfaction. In the end he made a bunch of toys and lunchboxes and shit and raked in another fuck ton of money, but that was never the plan.

If Lucas is indeed a genius, then we should find further evidence in his subsequent films. Thing is, he didn’t write or direct another film for 21 years. Instead we can look at movies he’s produced, but producers aren’t filmmakers — they’re film enablers. And almost all the films he enabled were garbage. (Howard the fucking Duck anyone?) His return to the director’s chair and the writer’s… what have ya led to the final nail in the coffin: The Star Wars prequels, which I’m not even gonna touch here because Red Letter Media has already eviscerated them better than I ever could.

Then you’ve got Mark Zuckerberg. Again, I don’t intend to disparage the guy. He’s like 14 and is worth four hundred trillion dollars. Very cool. But like Lucas none of this was a result of his elaborate design. In the movie The Social Network they have Zuckerberg tell someone, “If you had invented Facebook, then you would’ve invented Facebook.” Thing is, Zuckerberg didn’t even invent Facebook. He invented The Facebook, which was a social networking shitter for Harvard students. He did not envision Facebook as we know it. It became what it is via serendipity and collaboration with the right people at the right time. Another happy accident.

Oh, and forgive me if I ignore the whole “he stole it” shit because even if that were true, they didn’t invent Facebook either and if things had worked out differently, then I’d be writing about them not being geniuses instead of Zuckerberg. Irrelevant.

Even if we could credit Mark Zuckerberg with singlehandedly creating Facebook from his own imagination, tenacity and ingenuity, it’s still a fucking website. Granted, super popular, but a fucking website. He didn’t develop a new programming language or reinvent the mouse. While it’s had a major cultural impact, it didn’t actually involve substantial forward-thinking or technical sophistication. At least Google got big for using some magical algorithms. Mark Zuckerberg was just another joker in a dorm room that slipped on the right banana peel and ended up where he is. And like George Lucas, we shouldn’t expect any more groundbreaking things from him. It’s all but certain Facebook will prove to be his first and last major triumph. Mark Zuckerberg is not Steve Jobs.

These guys are one hit wonders. They’re Forrest Gumps. They’re lottery winners. They are NOT geniuses.

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