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?

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