Reality bites -- for Hollywood, and for the rest of us


I don't normally blog about the Oscars and since I was working last night and only saw the last portion of the show, I'm certainly not going to weigh in on meaty questions like, um, whether James Franco was stoned. But it did strike me that the movie world went ga-ga this year over two real-life, "non-fiction" morality tales.

One of them is "The Social Network," which basically blames or credits the rise of the $50 billion behemoth known as Facebook on Mark Zuckerberg's unrequited desire to reconnect with an ex-flame. Except that in the reality-based world Zuckerberg has been happily dating the same woman for seven or eight years. The other is "The King's Speech," the moving saga of the speech coach who saved Western civilization by curing King George VI of his stuttering problem at the start of World War II in 1939 -- except that acording to this reality-based account the king was largely cured of his stammer by 1927, six years before Hitler even gained power in Germany. (More background here.)

Look, we all want stories with a clear moral and a clear timelime -- something that almost never exists in the randomized world we actually inhabit. It's not surprising that -- with so many millions of dollars riding on telling the perfect yarn -- that Hollywood routinely distorts the truth. What's so dangerous is how often the power of narrative overwhelms the truth in the places it matters most, like politics.