The Social Network

This is a good film all around: writing, directing, producing, acting – the opening scene proves all of that. The dialogue is witty, fast, pointed and sets the tone for the movie. It also lays out the basis of the whole story: here’s a kid who is intelligent, but has incredible social B.O. He can’t get along with people, desperately wants to be liked and accepted and rages against those who (he perceives) judges him.
He’s a typical American high school student – though he’s in college at this point. He wants to run with the popular kids, who he believes won’t accept him so he judges them… and why do you want to join their clubs so badly?

It reminds me of “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell where he talks about super-genius Chris Langan. Chris has amazing “intellectual knowledge” but almost no “practical knowledge.” He can’t relate with people and navigate a relationship. He’s abrasive, condescending and judging. One version of knowledge or the other will get you some places, but you need both to “succeed” in life… though clearly not both are required to succeed in business.

While this film has some truth to it, it is filtered though at least a few people. The story is written in the book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal” by Ben Mezrich. The screen play is written by Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”, “A Few Good Men”). And the film is directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Seven”, “Zodiac”). So while it’s hard to say how accurate it is, we do know some facts.

These facts make up, what I consider to be, one half of the story: the legal aspects. Through the course of starting and growing facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is accused of stealing the idea and cheating his co-founder. That part of the story is interesting and dramatic. But in my opinion, is open to too much interpretation, exaggeration and emotional dramatization to make much of a movie. It’s interesting, but I’d be more interested in a 1-hour documentary about these people: What’s their story (though they probably can’t say), what did they do after, etc.

I did like they way Fincher mixed the past, present, dispute meetings, etc. It made the story move and stay relevant. But I preferred, as far as movie goes, the other half of the story.

Mark wants to be liked and has (maybe) only one friend. He napalms his dating relationship in one conversation and does little to help his “friends list” any other time. But he’s smart and calculated and clearly wants attention regardless of how he gets it and who he hurts. When the Winklevoss twins come to him and offer to hire him (and help him), he, according to the movie (and later monetary settlement, imo), steals their idea, deceives them and the rest is history.

He weasels out of just about every real tight situation and seems to uses a few others to his advantage. He’s condescending at best to his friend. Eduardo, when good fortune comes to Eduardo. Is childish in meetings, selfish in the business and generally self-centered all around. The only reason he brought Eduardo in was for money and when that need was gone, so was Eduardo.

The point is, he wants to be liked but no one is good enough to like him. Except Sean Parker who, in the movie at least, seems to also be in it for himself, tells Mark want he wants to hear – that he’s right, a big man, important, a genius, this is a billion dollar company and Eduardo is dead weight. He has a telling scene, his first scene, he has a question for a girl, but she’s in the shower in the other room. To get her out there, he yells “There’s a snake in here!” She runs out and he asks his question. Does this sound like a person who will say anything to get what he wants?

I think the opening and closing scenes say it well. In the first scene, his now-ex-girlfriend tells him “You going to think people don’t like you because you’re a nerd, but it’s because you’re an a-hole.” and the legal representative at the end who says “You’re not an a-hole. You’re just trying so hard to be one.”

IMO, if you’re trying as hard as him, you’ve succeeded. Whether you think he did these things in a calculated effort to get to the top or just let weasels push him around to allow it, it still comes back to him. I’d say the “super-rich club” has plenty of people that had to sacrifice relationships for memberships and those ends certainly don’t justify the means.

I don’t know his side of the story and certainly some good has come of it, but in the realm of personal values, integrity and general consideration of others, he’s a fail.

As a caveat, I want to say I’m speaking of this story/film only. I can’t say what the full truth is and it probably can’t fully be known.

Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer all perform their roles with full awesomeness.

I give it 4 out of 5 Babbles.


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