“The Social Network” proves to be as successful as Facebook itself
October 4, 2010
“Listen. You’re going to be successful and rich, but you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a geek. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”
The strong ending dialogue to the first scene of “The Social Network” sums up the tragic, yet ironic character of Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg. This noteworthy breakup scene starts with Zuckerberg as a Harvard undergrad and his then current girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), set at a noisy Cambridge college bar. As the two start to argue over the importance of acceptability in the prestigious social circles of Harvard’s “Final Clubs”, we quickly realize that Mark is obsessed with the idea of recognition and standing out amongst his classmates- most of whom scored nearly a perfect 1600 SAT score.
We also quickly realize that Mark has serious communication inefficiencies. As Erica merely tries to express her opinion, Mark continuously and condescendingly talks at her, rather than with her. His fast paced rants ooze with self insecurities, but ultimately fail in his defense when Erica finally cannot take anymore of Zuckerberg’s cocky comments that would make anyone else sound like a pseudo-intellectual. She then dumps Mark, who initially masks up the rejection by not believing that she is completely serious in her statement. Through this first scene, we see two themes emerge: the desire of acceptance at any cost (in this case quantity seems more important than quality), but also the ironic elements of communication failures. Seeing as Zuckerberg is the one person who will create a social media phenomenon that will change how the entire world communicates with each other-it is then ironic since he serves as a brick wall that cannot communicate to himself or to others around him.
Angry and intoxicated, Mark dashes back to his small Harvard dorm to vent over Erica’s rejection. While furiously (and unkindly) blogging on LiveJournal about Erica’s bra size, school, family name and other personal insults, Zuckerberg simultaneously develops the idea for his first instant success: Facemash.com – a website that takes the photos of all females from the Harvard campus, and produces a side by side rating comparison of their attractiveness. Here, the film takes on a first person narrative showing how he applies his computer hacking skills to access the entire Harvard system in the blink of the eye. The incredibly fast narrative gives extreme insight into Zuckerberg’s thought process- which almost relics the HTML codes he can type at an alarming rate.
Within four hours, Facemash.com receives around 22,000 hits- making the Harvard computer system crash, and giving Zuckerberg mostly negative notoriety around campus (especially from females), but notoriety none the less. Through this notoriety, Zuckerberg gains the attention from two of the most elite Harvard students, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, both played by Armie Hammer. Aside from being extremely wealthy and part of the most aristocratic Final Club known to Harvard,The Porcellian ; the Winklevosses’ are creating a website that takes the profiles and pictures of all Harvard students and puts them on one social networking site. Needing a Harvard.edu email account, the website promotes exclusivity for reasoning no more than the thought that “Girls want to go with guys who go to Harvard”. This is where Zuckerberg comes into the picture as their programmer, but also a re-inventor, taking their idea and turning it into something far greater- the birth of Facebook.
From this point in the film, time switches from past to present between two different multi-million dollar lawsuits filed from the Winklevoss twins and their business partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), but also Zuckerberg’s former best friend and Facebook CFO, Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield.
The story is now told from flashbacks told by each character at the legal hearings. The quick-paced memories translate effortlessly at the film jumps from the events leading up to the lawsuit to the emotional testimony told by those against Mark Zuckerberg. This seamless use of space and time is applied beautifully to leave the viewer engrossed in the plot.
But it’s not only the narration though time that captivates movie goers, it’s the entire thing. Based off Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires”, Aaron Sorkin has managed to write a memorizing screenplay that attempted by anyone else, could have gone severely wrong. Each character in the movie is so developed, which is necessary with heavy dialog, that we do not second guess the events being depicted. Additionally, each character in the film adds something essential to the storyline, just like how each person around Zuckerberg added to his making of the Facebook fortune, in one way or another.
Casting in “The Social Network” is right on target and director, David Fincher, seems to have found a way to get the best performances out of his cast. Jesse Eisenberg does such a great job as the flawed antagonist, that he is bound to be nominated for an Academy Award. Not only is it a great performance, Eisenberg transforms into Mark Zuckerberg, the defensive genius who thinks in algorithms, but can’t relate to the world around him unless it’s self-benefiting.
Fast, witty, compelling and engrossing, “The Social Network” is a breath of fresh air that every audience can enjoy, but better, relate to. It’s an obvious reminder that success does not come easy- but it can come at a cost. “The Social Network” may not be the ‘defining’ film for our generation, but is still a great work of art that captivates the will and tendencies of humans through mediums both new and old- Money, greed, power, fame, and of course- Facebook.