Quoted: Larry Page talks ‘The Internship’ movie and computer science’s supposed bad rap

“The reason we got involved with the movie ‘The Internship’ is that computer science has a marketing problem. We’re the nerdy curmudgeons.”

Larry Page, Google CEO, on the movie about a couple of salesmen, played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, who manage to score internships at the company. Hilarity ensues — well, you be the judge, but that’s the idea — when they have to compete with the brilliant geeks who are there legitimately.

But does computer science truly have a marketing problem? Consider: There’s now a worldwide Geek Pride Day, although the Merc’s Joe Rodriguez reported over the weekend that some geeks didn’t get the memo. Also, Vaughn came up with the idea for “The Internship” after seeing a “60 Minutes” report on Google being one of the best places to work, according to Reuters. Tech companies such as Facebook and Google and LinkedIn — the natural habitat of geeks — consistently rank among the top places to work, according to Glassdoor surveys. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was No. 1 on the list of well-liked CEOs. (Page was No. 11 this year.)

There’s also backlash against the high-tech culture, which is partly a reflection of its popularity. For example, some have complained that free food at workplaces such as Google should be taxed. And in San Francisco, where many techies live and work, there is discontent among the masses over issues such as gentrification and class division, and some question tech workers’ connection and concern about civic issues. (See Quoted: Marc Andreessen Talks Tech, Government And Silicon Valley’s Mentality and Quoted: Tech And The City.) San Franciscans who have to take mass transit reportedly call the shuttles that take workers from the city to Silicon Valley offices “transport for a breed apart.”

As for Google’s own image? Academics tell the Los Angeles Times the movie, which will be released June 7, is “an epic piece of branding” for the Silicon Valley Internet giant and comes at an opportune time. (The gargantuan company has come under just a teeny bit of pressure from regulators, from the United States to Europe and elsewhere, over antitrust and privacy issues and more.) However, the movie’s director, Shawn Levy, says the company had input on technical issues but did not have say over the final cut.

Photo from “The Internship” courtesy of 20th Century Fox

 
 

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