I was really looking forward to seeing The Social Network from the very first trailer months ago. As an avid Facebooker, Twitter, and blogger, I was super pumped about seeing the genesis of what would become a social revolution. I can’t think of any other modern tool that has affected our daily interactions and has allowed us to connect with so many as quickly and easily as Facebook- as my newly re-aquainted list of elementary school ‘friends’ would reflect.
At first glance you would expect The Social Network to be about the impact of the greatest social networking platform in history, Facebook. In actuality, it’s more about the pain of birthing something original and it’s effects on friendships. Maybe this should have been more aptly called ‘The Social Experiment’. In a way, I would describe this like antithesis to the ‘Titanic’- the ship survives but the relationships sink. The enjoyment or value of The Social Network is watching those relationships go all the way down to the bottom of the ocean.
Because of this fact, The Social Network has drawn a variety of responses. People loved the manipulative nature of the friendships and also hated them at the same time. There are no true heroes or villains, everyone is a little brilliant and evil. The fact is that according to this semi-ficticious story, FB was birthed, developed, and succeeded from selfish and arrogant motivations. At this point it almost doesn’t matter if it’s true or not because now it’s out there. This fact is hard for many to swallow for their beloved social media site. Many of my own friends have a new-found respect for founder Mark Zuckerberg while others have wanted to shut down their FB account (yea right). Whatever your view is, the dichotomy is very interesting and I love the fact that it has polarized so many.
Personally, I really enjoyed this ‘based on a true rumor’ story. The story telling is sharp, the characters are creatively flawed, and the outcome is not glamorize. I started to become interested in Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland but now I am a bona-fide fan. Mark Zuckerberg depiction is a neurotic, brilliant, cold, insecure, and a calculating genius. Eisenberg did a phenomenal job of making you identify with your inner and evil nerd. The stand out performance to me was Justin Timerlake. I felt he lit up the screen with charisma and attitude. Mid way through, the film needed a little Red bull and Timberlake delivered it by the case load. I’m looking forward to his career too. Even the Winklevoss twins brought some life into their potential 2-D roles against Zuckerberg (Shockingly, they are both played by a single actor Armie Hammer thanks to movie black-magic).
(The real Mark Zuckerberg)
For me, the most enjoyable parts were the themes of irony from The Social Network. Here is a guy who can’t get along with others that drops out of college to create a social network for the college community. He has helped billions become friends by creating enemies at the inception. It just goes to show you that those who ‘can’t’ teach. It was also ironic that the lead vocal of one of the most successful ‘boy bands’ in history played Sean Parker the founder of Napster- the very tool used to steal music like NSync and ultimately bring down the moguls grip on the music industry. The last irony was the lesson that something as philanthropic as Facebook can be birthed from selfishness. Don’t be naive to think this is isolated to Facebook, try doing some research on the very Mac Book you are using to read this blog (Jobs was fired from Apple in the early years) or the coffee shop that you are reading it in. The pain of birthing something great is the unfortunate reality of many of the luxuries we enjoy (I just watched a documentary about how Disney fired Pixar found John Lasseter because they didn’t ‘get’ 3-D animation. Now Lasseter runs all the Disney theme parks). So I appreciate Director David Fincher’s boldness to tell a less than idealic origin story for a wonderfully idealic social media website.
I know the events of The Social Network are in question. Director David Fincher never spoke to nor consulted with Mark Zuckerberg for this film. So most of this is hear say and highly interpreted. Just like any social media tool, The Social Media is what you make of it. This wasn’t as fantastic and RottenTomatoes reviewed it to be at 98% but it was a solid endeavour and probably one of the best films of 2010.
I give it a 4 out of 5 and a thumbs up ‘like’.