Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We All Live Online Now

Four Stars

The last shot of ‘The Social Network’ is Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) sitting at a laptop computer, pressing the refresh button. He’s waiting to befriend his ex-girlfriend on Facebook. That’s funny. This was the same girl at the beginning of the film who called him a jerk and refused to even accept his apology for writing badly of her on his blog. Now, she has a Facebook? What gives? Though, that’s not what ‘The Social Network’ is quite about. ‘The Social Network’ is about a bunch of guys fighting over who came up with the billion dollar idea. The Winkelevoss twins claim that Zuckerberg ripped off their idea, and thus made Facebook from it. Zuckerberg claims that the real reason they are suing him is because for the first time in their lives, things aren’t going their way. He enlists the aid of his friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). His friend ends up suing him too. Zuckerberg, I’m not quite sure is totally aware of right and wrong. He seems so socially inept that we aren’t quite sure what his deal is. His girlfriend at the beginning of the film tells him he has OCD, needs to see a doctor and get medication. I would say he’s got a case of Aspergers Syndrome. Of course, does that make Zuckerberg more sympathetic? In a way it does. I don’t think he means to quite rip off everyone. His friend Eduardo is frustrated with him because he seems to not really care about making money from this enterprise. He sleeps through all the meetings with advertisers. Or maybe he is being simply rude. What is up with this guy?

Well, it turns out that Zuckerberg is something of a genius. He’s a computer savant. He seems to miss all social cues, because he is so focused on his idea. He’s only focused on improving upon the idea that the Winkelevoss twins told him about. When he brings out another student from a party to tell him his idea, the student remarks he is cold. Zuckerberg says back that he’s totally psyched too. Later on, he meets Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) who kind of corrupts him. He convinces Zuckerberg to come out to California. That’s when thing start to go wrong and Facebook explodes. Justin Timberlake makes Parker the corrupting force in the film. Forget a million dollars, he tells Zuckerberg, how about a billion? I thought Zuckerberg didn’t care about money? Things get complicated from that point on.
Man, Harvard is competitive. Zuckerberg is trying really hard to get into clubs that will bring him a better life. Or so he thinks. Jesse Eisneberg plays Zuckerberg so well in this. It’s hard to tell if we should feel sorry for him or not. On one hand, he’s screwing over his only friend and getting sued by two brothers whom claim he ripped off their idea. Also, he did program a website that compares girls at Harvard to farm animals to get back at his ex. On the other hand, he also seems to not be completely in control. He’s easily taken advantage of by Sean Parker, the founder of Napster. Maybe he did steal the idea of Facebook? Though, on one hand, when he says they are suing him because for the first time things aren’t going their way. Well, that’s a valid point. Though, he is being sued, he seems to stick to the point that he created Facebook.

For an Aaron Sorkin script, the movie has a ton of lightening speed dialogue but is short on walk and talks through the hallways. David Flincher is a great director, who made the wonderful “Zodiac”. It’s hard to feel sorry for Zuckerberg as portrayed in this film, but in a way, you can kind of understand him. The guy doesn’t go to parties, works constantly, and doesn’t have much of a social life. In fact, it doesn’t seem like he is too aware of what is going on around him. He’s too focused on his computer screen to even as so much notice. Then again, wouldn’t you think the guy who created Facebook would be?

Though, the film ends with a Beatles song, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man”, informing us that Mark Zuckerberg is the world’s youngest billionaire. Maybe another song would be “Can’t Buy Me Love.” For all the money Zuckerberg has at the end of the story, he doesn’t seem totally happy. He’ll probably avoid a trial. Write a few checks for some people to just go away. Date a Japanese pop star. At least I know the real Zuckerberg does date a Japanese pop star. He has billions of dollars. On the other hand, at the end of the film, he’s still hung up on his ex-girlfriend. He’s quietly clicking away at her Facebook page, and hoping for a little sign that they are still friends. Mark Zuckerberg is socially awkward. His best friend is his computer. And he’s waiting for someone to befriend him on Facebook, and in a way, aren’t we all?

Friday, November 12, 2010

High As A Hawk!

Man, so I was reading an article in the local newspaper and I came across this report that Student Senator Marc Pottak was trying to change the drug laws and the first thing I thought to myself, “New Paltz has drug laws?” I was taken aback. I just assumed that New Paltz was a magical town just south of Hogwarts! Yes, it’s true, New Paltz has drug laws! Even more shocking, New Paltz, according to the article, has the strictest drug laws of all the SUNY schools. According to the New Paltz website, the drug law is called the “No Second Chance Policy.” What the heck are they talking about? New Paltz doesn’t give second chances? Not the New Paltz I know! The New Paltz I know gives a second chance to lots of people. Between the ultra liberal professors and the image this school has built over the years as the school you want to go to if your thing is sitting on the front stoops of coffee shops, getting drunk people to think your band is amazing (it’s not), and trying to pass off slam poetry as a valid form of expression. Sorry, I just happen to think that Slam Poetry is loud. Maybe I should stand up on a bench and yell every single word of this column at you. Then this column would be deep! As I was saying, if New Paltz wasn’t the school of second chances, the school be well, empty.

According to this so-called policy, a penalty for the first offense or strike will be no less then disciplinary probation, and educational or clinical intervention. The second offense will be no less then expulsion. As I said, not cool, New Paltz. Seriously, a strict drug policy at New Paltz! The interim president refuses to change the policy. This reminds me of the mayor trying to jam the Noise Ordinance down the throats of students and residents. I remember thinking to myself, New Paltz not noisy? Remember, what I said earlier? I remember stumbling down the sidewalks of New Paltz drunk, while bands played loudly through the windows. Of course, New Paltz is loud. It’s a college town. A college town that isn’t noisy would be well not a college town, and of course, it has drugs. Once again, it’s a college town. So, this is really ironic. The liberal haven of New Paltz has the strictest drug policy of all the SUNY schools. Now, the school is holding a forum on the drug laws that’s going to take place soon. “We are hoping to show that there is a consistent opinion about the policy on campus and what kinds of changes people want to see” Pottak says in the article.

The school does need to rethink its drug policy. Two strikes and you’re out on marijuana smoking is a bit over the top. Other schools have a three strike policy.Look, I understand the school’s desire to crack down on marijuana but this isn’t the way to do it. Two strikes and you’re out while other schools have three strikes is a bit absurd. I guess I shouldn’t be the lecturer about drug policies. I am hardly a druggy and I tend to roll my eyes at pot heads.

So, what’s the point of this column, all joking aside? Look, I’m not advocating
drugs. I don’t smoke weed. I can’t. My brain is my only asset, and my only skill is writing these stupid little columns that they run in newspapers, and people read and spill coffee on. I can’t afford to lose any brain cells. That’s why I don’t drink that much either. My only drug is caffeine. After all, caffeine is the only drug that’s actually served to you in college lobbies across the country. Didn’t ever think of that one, huh? How do they know it? I don’t know. And I look forward to your letters about how slam poetry is great art, and so is your band. I love New Paltz. Though, I have to say that having such a strict policy when it comes to marijuana makes no sense. We can do better, New Paltz. Come on, New Paltz, Newsweek called you the “hottest little school in the country.” You don’t want to ruin it. You already are grating on the nerves by changing the logo of the school from a hawk to a corporate thingy. Seriously, have you seen that new logo? What happened to the Hawk? That was a great logo, because New Paltz is like a hawk, because hawks fly high. Just like New Paltz.