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The Social Network Film Poster Looks Vaguely Familiar

September 29, 2010

When I first saw the promotional poster for The Social Network, which opens on Friday, I thought it looked familiar. I dug through my books and found a controversial classic from 1991! Though I’m not sure Mark Zuckerberg wants to be compared to…

The similarities are striking. What do you think?

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 8:31 am

    After reading this New Yorker piece on Zuckerberg, I think The Social Network could alternatively have been named Amercian Asshole.

  2. September 29, 2010 8:57 am

    you totally nailed it! I was thinking it looked familiar too, but couldn’t place it.

  3. September 29, 2010 9:02 am

    Yay. I was searching for that NYer piece. It was fantastic.

    @Raymond – I hate when they don’t even bother trying to hide what they’re ripping off or the what the agenda is.

  4. evmaroon permalink
    September 29, 2010 9:55 am

    I think you’re giving them too much credit. Often designs just get recycled unconsciously. But they can’t get one by your encyclopedic memory, Snarky! Nice catch!

  5. September 29, 2010 10:04 am

    I don’t think it’s unconscious at all. That said, I didn’t say intentional, just familiar and similar. But then people who get caught stealing from others always say it’s unconscious.

  6. September 29, 2010 10:57 am

    I feel like unconscious is code for “we forgot to do the research and see if in the past hundred years someone already did this.”

  7. September 29, 2010 11:10 am

    @Raymond – agreed. It’s not hard to research, nor is it hard to be all Quentin Tarantino about it either. Tarantino takes delight in his send ups and homages. I like that about him.

    The Social Network is a film about white preppies behaving badly, so likening it to the works of Easton Ellis would be the smart move, given that’s what Easton Ellis is know for. I was interested in seeing the film based on that framing of it. But if this was “unconscious” marketing, then the film looks kind of boring.

  8. evmaroon permalink
    September 29, 2010 12:13 pm

    Well, I just see similar design happening all the time—how many more swooshy stick figures running do we need to see as company logos, for example—so I suppose my first impulse is to consider it laziness on the part of the graphic designer. It’s not much better than being a rip-off artist, at least in my book.

  9. September 29, 2010 12:42 pm

    I researched this particular design element and only found two other examples besides this one, used within the last 15 years. One example is:

    Book jacket for Koolaids: The Art of War

    and one that predates American Psycho. I’m sure there have been others. Personally, I don’t consider “laziness” an excuse, particularly when the “laziness” is profitable.

  10. evmaroon permalink
    September 29, 2010 12:43 pm

    I certainly don’t think it’s an excuse. That’s why I call it laziness.

  11. September 29, 2010 12:44 pm

    Also it took me like three minutes to research this info. Certainly a corporation with more resources than I do can do a better job researching design concepts or at least give a nod to what they’re ripping off.

    I hate it when people act like being inspired by existing work is something to be concealed. It’s immature and dishonest.

  12. September 29, 2010 6:20 pm

    Wow, I’m a librarian and I’m impressed: How do you research design elements?

    Also, I’m still confused that there is a movie about the guy behind…Facebook. I mean, Facebook. Is he really that interesting?

  13. September 29, 2010 6:25 pm

    Isn’t it “subconscious”? Unconscious is what you are when you’re knocked out cold.

    Other than that, ripping off old design elements no longer surprises me. Good eye for figuring out what they ripped off, though. People need to get on the originality train.

  14. hsofia permalink
    September 29, 2010 6:46 pm

    With a budget of $50M, I can’t believe they couldn’t pay someone for something more original. Or at least a better version of the original. (The American Psycho cover is superior, IMO.)

  15. evmaroon permalink
    September 29, 2010 7:05 pm

    Yes, subconscious! Nice catch.

  16. evmaroon permalink
    September 29, 2010 7:37 pm

    @laurak: I know Snarky has some tricks up her sleeve as far as researching goes. . . also, the National Archives has been working for years now on creating metadata and search architecture for images, so I know there are info. science people out there coming up with some novel solutions.

  17. hsofia permalink
    September 29, 2010 8:10 pm

    Are you sure unconscious is not an okay word to use in this context? I’ve got a copy of Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious on my bookshelf.

  18. September 29, 2010 8:23 pm

    @laura k – I read a lot. Plus this is a pretty unique concept, but only a generation that is used to its pop culture being so very much disposable would assume it’s hard to find information or that pop culture history doesn’t goes back further than five years. It makes me seem much smarter, when it really just shows how lazy most people are. It’s not hard to find information if folks are willing to look for it and not wait for it to be spoon fed to them.

    Yesterday, I had to settle a “bet” between two fools who were bitching about Disney for fucking up “Tron”.

    Yeah, I’ll let you figure out why that’s so freaking fatuous.

  19. September 30, 2010 3:04 am

    Well, I am curious about who designed the ad campaign for “The Social Network,” and if they did swipe this concept, because that would be a not-so-subtle smack to the story itself! Presumably the filmmakers didn’t have a great deal of say in the marketing of the film; that usually falls to the PR department for the studio or whomever they hired for that. But after watching Jesse Eisenberg on Letterman, I got the sense that Zuckerberg might never go see this film, and probably doesn’t care about the American Psycho comparison, or maybe actually thinks it fits for this semi-fictional account of it, not that he had any hand in any of it.

    But to get back to the poster, I think the varying font sizes and italics in “The Social Network” one sheet give it a different feel from the all too uniform American Psycho cover. Obviously, there is enough of a similarity here that if you brought this into court as some sort of copyright infringement/plagiarism suit, the jury would likely convict. This was a very long way of saying, yes.

  20. September 30, 2010 7:32 am

    @Penpusher, the odd thing about both is they evoke the same since of dread and foreboding. It’s so creepy. I love it. I think that’s why it was easy for me to figure out where I’d see it used before. It left an impression on me. Definitely, check out the New Yorker interview with Zuckerberg. It’s really fascinating. He’s a hot mess of arrogance and nastiness.

  21. September 30, 2010 12:55 pm

    it also reminded me of the cover for “never let me go” – which is about a humanoid clone, i believe, so also not the most flattering comparison for zuckerberg.

  22. September 30, 2010 1:01 pm

    @abbyjean OMG YES!!! Exactly. Yes!

  23. September 30, 2010 8:26 pm

    Considering how much American Psycho causes the viewer to question whether or not what is happening is real or is just an overblown delusion in Patrick Bateman’s mind, it could be an intentional dig at Zuckerberg and whether or not he’s as all-important as he seems to think he is.

  24. September 30, 2010 10:16 pm

    @abby jean they are using another poster with just Jesse Eisenberg’s eye, so that relates even closer to your example!

  25. October 9, 2010 11:48 am

    Similar, but lookup on google images ‘the man who fell to earth’ with David Bowie. Now that’s what it looks like, down to the same font as well..

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