I’ve been anticipating Oscar Nominations day all year and I may have prepared a few reviews as I saw fit. Anyway, back in October I had a good feeling about The Social Network:
You see us every day. Twenty-somethings who don’t dress any better than a hoodie over a snarky t-shirt, and a vacant stare just refreshing a webpage over and over. That is where our lives are, on the internet, like you’re reading right now. In The Social Network we don’t see Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) drive a car, crack a sincere smile or eat anything more substantial than a Twizzler. He’s surprisingly lacking in basic human functions. And now he’s being sued, but can barely keep his eyes open.
The fact that a captivating narrative can be written about the humble origins of Facebook, from one heated night in a Harvard dorm blogging and coding, to exploding into a multi-billion dollar global corporation, is amazing. It could have been dry and boring, like business. It is anything but. There’s a good mixture of high octane college life, cold and tense legal action and the thrill of creating a revolution in communication.
In the realm of young internet gods, Zuckerberg and Sean Parker (creator of Napster played by Justin Timberlake) are polar opposites. While Zuck hacks, codes and bitterly blogs alone in his room, Parker is the type who parties with new girls every night and he’s charming about it too. We first meet him the morning after he hooks up with a girl from Stanford and when asked if he even remembers her name, she’s pleasantly surprised how much he listened the night before.
Fading quickly into the past is the perfect yuppy Harvard boy, best personified by the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer) who have plenty of daddy’s money to throw around in a legal case against Zuckerberg. This new millennium has been taken over by the computer nerd, the one who can code the fastest and who can make the next great idea to go viral.
Just like the Final clubs at Harvard, the Facebook founding team is a boys club. In fact, the only role women play in the whole film is just what Facebook originally wanted to boil them down to: a pretty face on the screen. They become ravenous over Zuck’s fame, help spread the word on Facebook and arrive by the busload to party with Harvard boys.
So here’s a fun way to think of it; Zuck originally created Facebook as a sexist way to rate and objectify women and every time your average college party girl puts on that low cut shirt, practices her pouty face in the mirror, extends her arm out to make a new profile picture, she’s just feeding the machine. But sadly, today Facebook isn’t as cool as it used to be. The exclusivity of a prestigious college email address is gone. Now, our grandma’s send us Farmville requests, the ladies from church found us through someone and now our party pictures have to be untagged. What was once a college student’s online club is now al the world’s play place, but The Social Network takes me back to when I joined Facebook in November of 2004. I could have been that millionth member.
No one leaves the theater wanting to be Zuckerberg. So many of us would kill for that billion dollar idea, but is this how you do it? If it wasn’t backstabbing or just being a complete asshole that brought Zuck so much legal trouble it was just his complete lack of social skills. He’s driven and dedicated but only loyal to his creation. Sadly, that’s how Zuck is boiled down to in The Social Network. A completely unsociable young man who’s mind operates like computer code: efficient and cold.
“Welcome to Facebook.”
If The Academy is looking to award the film that best paints a defining picture of this generation, the Oscar will go to The Social Network.