The King's TweetOne Oscar nominee has special relevance for social media. And it isn't The Social Network.

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The offi­cial Oscar nom­in­a­tions are out, and there’s a movie up for best picture that has a lot to say about social media and the online com­mu­nic­a­tions revolu­tion sweeping the world.

The Social Network? Hell, no. I’m talking about The King’s Speech.

Set mostly in the years leading up to the Second World War, The King’s Speech deals with the extraordinary rela­tion­ship between speech ther­apist Lionel Logue and Albert, Duke of York. Albert has a per­sistent stammer, an afflic­tion that might have gone largely unre­marked in past gen­er­a­tions. But this is the era of radio, and when he ascends (a little relu­cantly) to the throne as King George VI, he must deliver an address to a nation suf­fering from grave fear and doubt.

(Spoiler alert: If you have some know­ledge of history, you are prob­ably assuming his address was at least good enough to avoid demor­al­izing the nation and forcing Britain’s capit­u­la­tion to the Nazis. And you are correct. Also, you were prob­ably a little sur­prised by the ending of Inglorious Bas­terds.)

This is the story of a friend­ship that crosses some very deep divides of class and colo­ni­alism. But it’s also a story of entrenched insti­tu­tions con­fronting the trans­form­a­tional changes brought about thanks to tech­no­lo­gical innov­a­tion.

The Social Network was fascinating, engrossing and entertaining... but it had surprisingly little to say about Facebook or the larger social media revolution, and how they affect our daily lives. Instead, the movie was more about sacrificing friendships for the sake of a larger business vision.

While The Social Network contented itself with (a version of) the story of Mark Zuckerberg, The King's Speech touched on the chan­ging rela­tion­ship between the public and those in power, who have had a long time to become used to deciding when, where and how any com­mu­nic­a­tion will take place between them.

That’s a timely theme for anyone watching the past day’s events unfold in Tunisia and Egypt — or, for the matter, the past decade’s events in much of the rest of the world.

A version of this post appeared on ReadWriteWeb and Noise to Signal.

 

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