Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Internship: Google PR Movie fact check

The Internship -- a comedy loosely based on a false notion of Google internships?

How many movies have you seen that claim to be "based on a true story," or "a dramatization of real events," only to find out that there were so many factual aberrations, that the film's rendition of the story is mostly fantasy, or falsified in important points, and thus  gives a warped viewpoint of the reality?

The Internship is one of those movies, apparently. A film about two older guys who want a job in technology "with Google as the backdrop." That means, with a fictionalized, unreal portrayal of Google. 

Many reviewers are calling The Internship "a love letter to Google" and "a 2 hour  commercial for Google," but there are some odd misrepresentations.

FACT: There is no public Google "help line" you can call.

FACT: Google internships are not given out as prizes for team competition events.

FACT: New AdWords accounts for small businesses do not get processed through written purchase orders.

FACT: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson do NOT have GooglePlus accounts.

FACT: Google, in fact no corporation or organization, is as wacky, fun, altruistic, and innocent, as this film makes Google out to be. It's easy to chant "Do No Harm" -- but that doesn't mean that you are in fact never doing any harm. Of course, no group of humans will ever be perfect.

The film makers confessed that they weren't trying to portray Google accurately. They admit to not caring about the facts. Then why not call the firm Zillions, give it a fake name and fake characteristics?

The movie revolves around Google internships, but presents a very inaccurate perspective on Google internships, offering a make believe substitute instead. It strongly pushes the good intentions of Google and its Do No Harm mantra, while avoiding any of the negative publicity related to Google's policies.

What is the point of doing such a thing? Didn't the producer have enough imagination to build a story on the truth about Google internships? Was the truth "too mundane," not exciting enough?

Why can't a film maker take the reality and build a story around the actual facts, instead of twisting things around, for the sake of "what I want to imagine it to be"?

My reason for disliking this common ploy is that the movies create a powerfully embedded false sense of a real thing. The fantasy of the film dictates what the masses perceive about the object of the film. 

Movie-goers walk away with a fake that they consider the real deal. This can cause trivial or serious problems when people discuss the true story, or the actual entity, and base their opinions on what they remember seeing in the movie.

I'm not saying that every film based on a true story or a real entity has to be a documentary. What I'm saying is be faithful to the facts of the real entity, because your portrayal will be taken by most movie-goers to be the truth. Most of them probably won't fact check the film.

I believe that films based on true stories or real entities swerve from the facts due to the arrogance of the producer. Ego gets in the way. A power trip ensues. The producer gets some kind of weird thrill imposing his vision and disregarding the truth.

The motivation of the film's producer often is declared: "I told the story in my own special way because I wanted to put my personal stamp on it." They apparently want to tell their own story, and just use the true story or the real entity as a convenient springboard to go off in all kinds of wild, fanciful directions. To me, that's not cool.

Will The Internship be a funny movie? Probably. Will it be enjoyable to watch. Undoubtedly. Will it get people interested in pursuing a career in technology? Hopefully. Will it implant some errors about what Google is really like in the minds of viewers? Unfortunately.

Bottom line: A good PR tool for Google, that pointlessly deviates from the truth about Google internships. A better idea for a movie might have been the zany antics of brogrammers that occur at Google's Summer of Code (SOC) program.

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