Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Social Network

The Social Network was... interesting. A movie about the creation of that little thing called Facebook, The Social Network follows the path of one Mark Zuckerberg, the main creator. Unusual in that this is one of the first movies (that I know of) ever made about the creation of a real-life business company, it turned out to be quite enthralling to watch.

Prince Asshole

Assuming even half of what the movie showed was true, Mark Zuckerberg is one of the more unlikable, anti-social, opportunistic and selfish bastards I've ever seen in a movie. In fact, at least 75% of all characters you see on the screen are self-interested and cutthroat assholes. We have Zuckerberg himself, Sean Parker (the co-founder of Napster), the brothers Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra. All of them grade-A backstabbing pricks.

For this reason, the movie was hard for me to get invested in. I couldn't bring myself to empathize with the main character; at many times throughout the movie Zuckerberg treats his closest friends like garbage and he actively seems to go out of his way to undermine others. Even when it seems easier to cooperate and collaborate, Zuckerberg seems to always choose the 'most dickish' move. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won't mention any specifics. But I do want to point out that one should not expect some sort of triumphant or inspiring journey to Facebook's creation. Mark Zuckerberg (or at least this portrayal of him) is arrogant and irritating, treating everyone poorly because of a massive superiority complex.

However, I was still able to enjoy the movie on a surface level. The business machinations behind Facebook's creation were interesting to watch, along with the lawsuits against Zuckerberg. The movie flip-flops between the past of how Facebook came to be and the 'present' of what happened with the two lawsuits against Zuckerbereg. One lawsuit is induced by his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, for being financially taken advantage of and misled. The other is levied by the Winklevoss twins and Narendra under the assertion that Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea of Facebook from them. Each have valid points that make the discussions between them quite intriguing, and seeing the events play out in the film that are directly relevant to the lawsuits made these parts the most interesting to me.

Pauper Sympathy

While I was unable to find any sympathy for Mark Zuckerberg's character, I found loads for Eduardo Saverin. He is the only major character in the film who actually seems to make decisions based on friendship, understanding, and sheer niceness. Unlike Zuckerberg, Saverin is dedicated to the idea of partnership between the two, and goes out of his way to provide the lion's share of the funding for the Facebook project, even when Zuckerberg doesn't seem to deserve it. Saverin is the heart of the film and even when he is complaining to Zuckerberg, everything seems justified.

In a way, though, I found this strange. Of all these major players in the Facebook drama, only Saverin comes out looking a much better person than the rest of them. Suspicious, I looked into it and found that the real-life Eduardo Saverin was the only person related to Facebook who had been willing to help provide his side of the story; The Social Network is based upon the book, The Accidental Billionaires, and Saverin served as consultant for it. So, in a movie that is already dramatized and with its facts diluted, we have the most sympathetic character being that of the only person who chipped in with his two cents. Hmm...


Yet, despite the fact that all of it is factually questionable, I did enjoy watching The Social Network. The acting seemed pretty good, it was well paced, and the circumstances behind both Facebook's creation and the lawsuits made against Mark Zuckerberg by his friends made for an interesting story. Nowhere have I seen such cutthroat business practices but, hey, I'm no business major. It did make me curious as to whether most businesses comport themselves like this. I'll be reading a book or two in the upcoming months on the subject as a result.

However, this was not a great movie. I do not understand the clamor about giving this film Oscars. In my opinion, it deserves none. It was entertaining and often amusing, but in no way did it feel exceptional. Worth seeing? Yes. Worth worshipping? No. I'll save my worshipping for Inception.


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