8 (or so) Thoughts on ‘The Social Network’

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , ,

So I finally got around to seeing The Social Network and…hm. Well, Spoilers, except you already know everything that will happen in this movie (for reasons I’ll get into below).

As a film, it’s pretty solid, though its analysis of Mark Zuckerberg is about as subtle as Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane (in fact, I’m kind of shocked Sorkin didn’t just go ahead and name the girl from the beginning of the film “Rosebud”). Which means it becomes a good movie by also being a pretty terrible biopic, recasting people to suit certain agendas and flat out making shit up just to get a better dramatic arc going.

And while I knew going in this was hardly a documentary, I’m not sure how I feel about Sorkin honoring Truthiness while completely ignoring, y’know, reality.

Anyway. Other thoughts, one of which involves a space-laser and how I know for sure that as rich and powerful as he may be, the real Mark Zuckerberg does not have one…yet: 

The movie is an episode of “Behind the Music” with computer geeks. There’s the rise, the fall, the boozing and drugs, the misplaced arrogance, the turning on old friends. The story, in almost every way, is every other VH1 “Behind the Music” you ever saw. (This is one of those moments where I wonder if I’m dating myself. People still remember VH1 used to be a music-centric network, right?) But instead of talking about how it used to be about the music, not the groupies, maaaan, they’re in dorms writing code (with groupies, which…I dunno about that). That said, good for this movie for making computer-stuff interesting without resorting to Hugh Jackman getting blown while hacking.

It’s funnier than I initially thought. Never ha-ha funny, but somehow, through the somewhat hapless Eduardo Sevarin character, they manage to toss in a few great doubletakes and slapstick moments. Which leads me to believe…

Andrew Garfield will probably be a really good Spider-Man. I was particularly interested in watching his performance, since I could only barely remember him in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (in my defense, it is a movie where Heath Ledger morphs into Johnny Depp, and Tom Waits is the DEVIL, so…there was a lot to focus on). But he nails shy, doofy and self-deprecating really well, and given that (500) Days of Summer was also much funnier than I’d expected, I have reasonably high hopes now for the Spider-Man reboot.

The Protagonist of the Movie is the Villain. While the narrative heart of the film is how a status-obsessed Zuckerberg screws over Eduardo Sevarin, the movie even manages to make the smug, entitled Winklevoss twins look good (and considering even the softball “60 Minutes” interview paints them as a couple of greedy pricks, that’s no small feat). It’s an interesting role-reversal the film pulls on the “nerds vs. snobs” trope, but it just goes to show you, THAT is how bad the movie’s Zuckerberg character comes off. In fact, you could probably replace him with Darth Vader and the movie would feel JUST AS ACCURATE. Which leads me to believe…

Mark Zuckerberg is a really good sport. The guy did some solid damage control while the movie was in theaters – that pleasant “60 Minutes” interview, giving a buttload of money to New Jersey public schools – but…hoo-boy. The main point here is restraint. If I had two gazillion dollars and a product used by pretty much everyone at my disposal? I would FUCKING DESTROY Aaron Sorkin (I would DESTROY HIM WITH A GIANT SPACE CANNON, which is why I am not really the kind of guy who should have lots of money or power). That alone tells you the movie’s Zuckerberg bears no resemblance to the actual guy. Oh, that reminds me:

Aaron Sorkin has some serious issues to work out. There’s an interesting thread to watch in Sorkin’s writing, from “SportsNight” to around the third season of “The West Wing,” then full-blown by “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” – all used as a mouthpiece for Sorkin – where the nerd-hero (Jeremy, then Sam, then…well, pretty much everyone on “Studio 60”) has an unfortunate habit of railing against the people they deem “cool,” as though that’s something that successful adults doing things they love actually have the energy to give a shit about.

And despite Sorkin’s protests that the reason there aren’t any great female roles in The Social Network is because that’s simply not the story he was telling (which – he’s right, in that context), when you go through his writing history (here I’m thinking about Jeremy’s breakup with Natalie, or season 3 Sam’s need to defend himself against offensive things he’s said about women)…dude. When you craft an entire narrative around a guy building a billion-dollar website to impress/spite a girl WHO DIDN’T ACTUALLY EXIST…there are some uncomfortable Sorkin-isms about showing the pretty, cool girls Just How Smart You Are to deal with here. Which leads me to point out…

Sorkin continues to plagiarize himself. Maybe it’s that other than Joss Whedon, Sorkin’s the only TV writer I pay close attention to, but the man manages to not only repurpose deep emotional issues from one show to another (a dead sibling or unfaithful father) – he’s actually re-used lines of dialogue. Now…I’ve written lines of dialogue I’ve been particularly fond of. But my feeling is, once they’re on the page (or even more appropriately – once they’ve been spoken by an actor on a TV show seen by millions of people)? They are done. They are used. And you should maybe move on, rather than assume nobody heard your joke the first time.


  1. Blaze Tarnen says:

    The movie, and indeed facebook itself, is/are/were/will always be, the pinnacle of tedium. I couldn’t stay awake for the entire movie, it was that boring. It was good “fun” (candy) cinema – (Transformers, et all – at least the first two, now that the misogynistic farktard known as Michael Bay has axed Megan Fox (she had to wash his car in a bikini to get the role in the first place – she’s no Einstein, that’s for certain, but she is what she is – what our society loves… a “hot” chick who is essentially without depth or intelligence because those qualities were never developed. Not her fault, although one could wish that more women would fight against society’s wishes that they be beautiful, sexy and dumb as a sack of hammers. Natalie Portman comes to mind, speaks 5 languages and graduated from Hebrew U and Harvard; Jodie Foster (Yale – and brilliant) Jennifer(s) Connelly and Beals, also Yale, Kate Beckinsale, Oxford, to name but a few)….

    Returning to the topic, Megan Fox is very young, very “hot” and has coasted – as MANY women do with society’s full approbation and encouragement – solely on her appearance. Michael Bay, an adult male director of 10 films which have grossed over 100 million each, is a well-known asshole whom the female talent in general dislike, he’s known as a misogynist, he IS socially awkward, and because he’s such a pathetic creature but has obtained a certain power, he uses it to “get back” at the women whom he believes would never have given him a second look.

    If that’s true, it’s due to his personality far more than anything else; he isn’t ugly, and most teen boys and teen girls in HS look for the wrong things in their hook-ups with the opposite (or same) sex. Most. Not all. Grow up Israeli and you’ll see it differently (Natalie Portman) because there is no place or time for immaturity of that sort; Army at 18 for both genders, enemies all around – people tend to grow up faster and smarter. But that’s another issue entirely.

    How does this relate to facebook? Candy movies, effects films and what not — (hence the tangent relating to Megan Fox) are fun and aren’t meant to be “serious” or change our lives. Then there are the heart-warming movies that take old plots and by dint of the skill of the actors and the location, transform it into something better – Last Holiday, for example – the remake. Ebert referred to as “playing like a warm hug” – if I got the quote right, it’s been a while, his review is linked from the page at imdb. Here’s a link to the review: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060112/REVIEWS/60110003/1023 – by moving it to Karlovy Vary (a spa town in the Czech Republic) and adding Gerard Depardieu made it even better.

    In summary there are eye candy movies – effects and such; feel good movies, humor, crap (slapstick stupidity that caters to the lowest common denominator – Naked Gun garbage and such) and important cinema.

    Then there is boring self-important who really gives a damn boring movies that think they are important or mean something.

    This movie — The Social Network, falls into the latter category. Boring, dumb, who really cares about it or the joke otherwise known as “Facebook” – a place where idiots post photos of their trip to Ibiza when they told their boss they were home sick (dumb dumb dumb) or just spew out whatever and ignore the concept of privacy entirely.

    “HEY WORLD HERE IS MY EMAIL ADDRESS AND MY PICTURE AND ALL THE REST OF THE DETAILS ABOUT ME” Identity theft? Um, yes. Kidnapping? That too. White slavery? Facebook is responsible for its share.

    Stupid idea, invasive and uninteresting.

    Just like the movie.

    You come at the king, you best not miss.

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