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Thread: The Social Network

  1. #1
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    The Social Network

    THE SOCIAL NETWORK

    {Revised)

    Directed by David Fincher, U.S., (2010), 129 minutes


    Only a few years ago no one had ever heard of Facebook for one reason, it didn’t exist. Today 1 out of every 14 people in the world has a Facebook account. For those unaware, Facebook is a social networking technology that allows people to share their daily lives including photos and videos to friends all over the world. While it has changed the way people communicate with each other in fundamental ways, some decry the communication as superficial and issues of privacy have arisen. The company, led by its founder and CEO, 26-year old Mark Zuckerberg, however, has reached the plateau of having 500 million users, a phenomenal achievement in so short a period of time.

    David Fincher’s film The Social Network covers the early days of the founding of Facebook when Zuckerberg was a nineteen-year old student at Harvard. Written by Aaron Sorkin, it is a brutal indictment of a young man’s obsession with status and greed at the expense of loyalty to friends and supporters. What is implied by Sorkin, who admits that social media holds little fascination for him, is that “cool” sites such as Facebook offer no benefits to mankind. The picture presented of Zuckerberg is of a friendless computer geek, incapable of having close relationships - an angry, obnoxious, and egotistical young man. In reality, Zuckerberg comes across as warm, articulate and highly sociable, a person that really cares about “making the world open.”

    The film, based on the partly made-up book Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich is a blend of fact and fiction that has Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, inventing Facebook as a means of revenge against a girlfriend who rejected him and in order to raise his social status after he was refused entry into an elite all-male “final club” at Harvard. In an opening scene that borders on the chaotic, with music pounding in the background the camera focuses on Mark and his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) sitting at a table in a bar, bantering at a rat-a-tat speed about him fearing he will be rejected if he applies for a Harvard “final club”. Mark is trying to win over Erica but is depicted as so socially awkward that the conversation soon boils over into personal attacks and leads her to remark that, “Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster (a line of exercise machines)” (in reality, the supposed friendless Mark had a girlfriend in college, Priscilla Chan, and they are still together today).

    His feelings deeply hurt and seeking revenge for the rejection, Mark insensitively concocts a website called “Facemash” where he hacks into various school sites to obtain and display pictures of various girls on campus, asking users to pick the “hottest”, treating all girls as sex objects to be used for his entertainment. In a sad commentary on the blatant sexism on the campus, Facemash becomes so popular that it crashes the entire Harvard computer system. This event leads wealthy members of Harvard's crew team, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) and their friend Divya (Max Minghella), to recruit Zuckerberg to help in developing a new website called “The Harvard Connection”, one that will allow students to line up dates and communicate with each other using the campus server. While this might have seemed original to the twins, in fact a service called Club Nexus began operating at Stanford University two years earlier using that very approach.

    Mark agrees to work with the twins but deliberately misleads them about his intentions, sending them e-mails about how busy he is, apparently to delay their own project which he worried might be potentially competitive. At the same time, he is working on a new project called “The Facebook” which he is designing along with his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the films only sympathetic character. Events are shown in flashback as the film zeroes in on later hearings resulting from two depositions, one by Eduardo who claims that he was lied to and betrayed by Zuckerberg, and the other by the Winklevoss twins who sued Mark for supposedly stealing their idea and their code.

    Launched in February, 2004, The Facebook enrolled a ton of Harvard students in the first month of its creation. Saverin contributes his own funds to aid in the startup and is made Chief Financial Officer. It is then discovered by the co-creator of Napster, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), an aggressive Web entrepreneur who thinks in terms of expansion not only to other college campuses in the U.S. but all over the world. As it continues to expand, the name is changed simply to Facebook, Mark drops out of Harvard and moves to Palo Alto, California. The final scenes show an increasingly lonely individual, almost a tragic hero, who may have “gained the whole world but has lost his own soul”.

    The Social Network is an entertaining and extremely well made and beautifully acted film that holds our interest for its full two hour run. Unfortunately all the creative geniuses are men while women are shown as little more than empty headed groupies and sex objects, eager to serve the boys. While much of the film is accurate in terms of the events portrayed and, except for the invented put-downs of the lawyers, the twins, and Saverin, much of the language is taken verbatim from legal transcripts. While Fincher makes some good points about what is really important in life, it seems that in order to be dramatic, Fincher had to show Zuckerberg in an extremely unflattering manner, almost to the point of character assassination.

    Aaron Sorkin told New York magazine, "I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling," Zuckerberg did not cooperate in making the film and Sorkin was grateful that he didn’t saying that if he had met Mark, “frankly, I probably would have had affection for him that I wouldn’t have wanted to betray.” With or without Mark’s participation, betray he did.

    GRADE: B+

    For a look at Chris Knipp's fine review, click Here
    Last edited by Howard Schumann; 11-06-2010 at 12:42 PM.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  2. #2
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    an elite all-male “final club” at Harvard, the last social club one can join before graduation.
    This is misleading. As you will see in the Wikipedia article, "Final Clubs," "Origins," "The historical basis for the name final club is that Harvard used to have a variety of clubs for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, with students of different years being in different clubs, and the "final clubs" were so named because they were the last social club a person could join before graduation." But this is no longer true and sophomores and juniors are "punched" for final club membership. As I wrote, Mark Zuckerberg (illustrating your point that the film is not wholly factual) has denied he every wanted to join such a club -- though we may if we wish doubt that, given that his friend Eduardo Saverin did have this opportunity and he didn't. I'd also like to modify something I wrote that is slightly misleading:
    the film omits mention that [Zuckerberg] not only graduated from an exclusive Eastern prep school, Phillips Exeter, but was captain of the fencing team there
    . There is no overt mention of this, but Mark iis seen wearing a Phillips Exeter sweatshirt, so the movie doesn't hide or omit this fact altogether.

    Your review is also inaccurate about the girlfriend issue. You wrote
    in reality, Mark had a girlfriend in college, Priscilla Chan and they are still together today.
    Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facemash, the predecessor to Facebook, on October 28, 2003, in reaction to breaking up with a girlfriend. This is not an invention of Sorkin and Fincher. Zuckerberg began dating Pricilla Chan later, though they have been together ever since and he is not the lonely guy depiected at the end of the film. Zuckerberg actually did keep an online diary/blog while he was angry at the breakup with this girl, and was drunk, by his own admission, and he was writing Facemash. His blog is available online and he calls the ex-gf a "bitch" on it, and much of the blog is almost work-for-word what we hear in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. They've just added a couple more nasty phrases about the gf that aren't on the blog.

    process.php
    1/10/2006 9:33:53 AM
    CONFIDENTIAL
    ?php

    include “style.php”;
    start_page (“Harvard Face Mash | The Process”) ;
    print “My mommy told me to take down this page, so it’s down temporarily.”;
    : (0);
    ?<font size=-1
    <b>10.28.03</b>

    <p><i>8:13pm</i>. <!- - Jessica Alona is a bitch. I need to think of something to make
    to take
    my mind off her.- - > I need to think of something to occupy my mind. Easy enough
    now I just need an idea…

    <p><i>9:48pm</i>. I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even
    10pm and
    it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland facebook is
    open on my computer desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook
    pics.
    I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have
    people
    vote on which is more attractive. It’s not such a great idea and probably not even
    funny, but
    Billy comes up with the idea of comparing two people from the facebook, and only
    sometimes
    putting a farm animal in there. Good call Mr. Olson! I think he’s onto something.
    <p><i>11:09pm</i>. Yea, it’s on. I’m not exactly sure how the farm animals are going
    to

    fit into this whole thing (you can’t really ever be sure with farm animals…

    [Etc.]

    This is very confusing:
    Events are shown in flashback as the film zeroes in on later hearings resulting from two depositions, one by Eduardo who claims that he was lied to and betrayed by Zuckerberg and by the Winklevoss twins who sued Mark for stealing their idea and their code.
    Are you saying Eduardo felt he was lied to and betrayed by the Winklevoss twins as well as by Zuckerberg? I do not think this was the case. The Winklevoss twins and Eduardo were both suing Zuckerberg, not each other.

    Despite these points, I don't think we're in much disagreement, except that I rate the film more highly. I gave it a ten out of ten on another site, and you give it a gentleman's B+. The point were I differ from you is:
    While Fincher makes some good points about what is really important in life, it seems as if the director felt that in order to be dramatic, he had to destroy a young man’s character. Zuckerberg has appeared interviews and comes across as warm, articulate and highly sociable, a person that really cares about “making the world open.”
    Yes, Zuckerberg has learned to come across as "warm, articulate" -- "highly sociable" is pure extrapolation. Many have testified, including his girlfriend and he himself, to the fact that he is nerdy, awkward, and geeky, and somewhat autistic in manner. Pricilla says when she met him "he was this nerdy guy." (She didn't mind. Maybe that appealed to her.) But he warms up when he talks about his big project in life. And he has held onto his girlfriend. I don't think he has the nastiness that Jesse Eisenberg gives him. But when you consider what he did and some of the things he is on record as saying, his ability to present Facebook projects and policies in public hardly proves he is or always has been what I'd call warm, or nice.

    Don't take this to heart, Howard; I'm just more into the details of this than you are.

    One more thing I just found: an interesting discussion of the possibility that since "facebook pages" have long been "huge" in prep schools, it's likely that the idea for Facebook came to Zuckerberg at Exeter. The initial essay is called "Did Mark Zuckerberg's Inspiration for Facebook Come Before Harvard?" and it's from a year and a half ago, May 2009.

    And documents of the early days of Facemash and "The" Facebook can be found linked to here. The movie changes emphases and facts, but also deals with a lot of specific actual information.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-05-2010 at 04:03 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks

    I agree the sentence about the depositions was awkward and I think I clarified it.

    As far as the fact that sophomores and juniors can now be "punched" for the final clubs, I would like to see a citation for that since I have not come across that modification.

    Nowhere in his blog does he say that Jessica was his girlfriend and that she broke up with him while talking in a dance club. He simply says that she was a "b*tch. I have read many reviews which clearly say that the girlfriend Erica is made up. Indeed I have read critics who know Mark and say that he was with Priscilla at the time of the events depicted in the film.

    Obviously, his whole thing about Facemash and the farm animals was stupid and misogynistic and I state in my review that this was the case. I also point out how women were depicted in the film as playthings for the boys. Whether Mark was or was not awkward or inept in college is hardly the point. The film makes no mention of any growth or any of his strong points other than being brilliant in computer science. It is strictly a straw man that was created to make the point about ambitious nerds being behind computer socializing which Sorkin knows nothing about by his own admission. It is a stereotype of the worst kind.

    I would have no problem with this film if the creator was not identified as a real life living person and if the website would be called "Connecting is Fun". As it stands it is a hit on a very talented young man. I would not like to be depicted on screen as I was when I was 19 because it would have been totally misleading. In the case of Mark and Facebook, this is the image people may have of him for the rest of his life.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  4. #4
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    Clearly Sorkin is indeed suggesting that computer nerds rule the world. This is hardly news. It's not stereotyping of the worst kind, it's fact. Warfare is also computerized, so combat murderers are computer nerds too.

    You may see the Mark Zuckerberg of the movie as a villain. But aspiring rapacious Internet billionarires will see him as a hero. Lkewise with the Gordon Gekko of the original Oliver Stone WALL STREET. He was meant as a villain, but for many aspiring financial entrepreneurs he became a role model.

    Whether Mark was awkward and inept in college is very much the point. And he himself, currently, has referred to himself in public appearances as an awkward person. It's on YouTube! It seems to me you are willfully misreading the facts here. If you find the film so reprehensible in mistreating a talented young man, why did you give it a B+? Why not a C-? If it is a brilliant film, it's because it's intelligent and on-target and thought-provoking, not just technically accomplished. How can you misread all the evidence that Zuckerberg was willing to betray the people around him? However, here is the admirable part of him: he does want his site to bring people together, and he is not interested in money, but in pursuing his project. That was true and it remains true.

    The blog does not give all the context, but it appears that Zuckerberg had been spurned by Jessica Alona. (The opening scene is set in a bar, not a dance club.) "Erica" represents "Jessica." The name is made up but not the character; the character refers to Jessica, an actual peson. According to a story-behind-the movie web entry, Mark indeed met Priscilla, his current gf, around the time he started Facebook, but he did not start dating her until she began working with him on Facebook in 2005. Nobody is saying that he broke up with her. I would not go to critics for information about Zuckerberg. They often misinterpret the movies they write about. They say Erica was made up? Yes, the name is made up.

    Why would it be misleading to depict you -- or me -- as we were when we were 19? It would be truthful to how we were then. Yes, Zuckerberg does not like being shown as he was then. Not because it is untrue, but he was not very nice back then. But the movie is truthful, not misleading. This is a CITIZEN KANE for our times. It's a universal story about ruthless pursuit of power in a new medium; and at the very same time it's very up to date in its specifics.

    In his public appearances the real Mark Zuckerberg seems, indeed, as I've said, nicer than the Mark Zuckerberg character in the movie. As the CEO of a $20 billion company whose purpose is social connection, he ought to. But he also seems immature, more immature than Jesse Eisenberg. If Mark Zuckerberg of Palo Alto, California is remembered as the brilliant, ruthless young man we see in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, worse things have happened. Any publicity is good publicity and by the way, Facebook rented a theater so the staff, and Zuckerberg himself, could watch the film -- in privacy. When asked about the movie, Zuckerberg said:
    "We build products that 500 million people see… If 5 million people see a movie, it doesn’t really matter that much."
    Note the arrogance of that. But typically, he's right -- though I think maybe more than 5 million will see the movie. 77 million saw Twilight.

    The word "final" for Final Clubs is vestigial and students are punched in sophomore and junior years. This information is in the sources I have cited.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-05-2010 at 07:05 PM.

  5. #5
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    The way it is

    I'm not going to argue with you because you always have to be right. I did not say that the events or the trials were inaccurate, though who betrayed who and other facts are still in dispute. I did say that the sequence of events in the film were accurate. I stand by my review (with the modifications I made), my rating and also my interpretation of the film. If you don't like my rating or my interpretation, that will just have to be the way that it is.
    Last edited by Howard Schumann; 11-05-2010 at 11:32 PM.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

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