Aaron Sorkin (screenplay) (based on a book by Ben Mezrich), David Fincher (director) The Social Network / 2010
Aaron Sorkin’s and David Fincher’s The Social Network might be described as one of the most interesting films with a hollow center that I’ve ever seen. To put it another way, it is a beautiful film about, as rookie lawyer Marylin Delpy describes the film’s “hero” Mark Zuckerberg, a man “trying so hard” to be an asshole. From the very beginning scene, Zuckerberg (played by the talented near-lookalike, Jesse Eisenberg) reveals his inability to engage in sensitive communication.
Erica Albright: Why do you keep saying I don't need to study?
Mark Zuckerberg: You go to B.U... —
to his later promise to take her to places where she might otherwise never be able to go, he proves that he is as close to being what Deply has suggested. Erica’s farewell parlay sums him up:
Erica Albright: You are probably going to be a very successful
computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking
that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to
know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll
be because you're an asshole.
Certainly there have been numerous works of literature and films with foolish or totally incompetent heroes. But this “hero,” although he becomes fabulously wealthy, is the creator of Facebook, a social networking tool that may be immensely popular, but as Betty White recently joked on Saturday Night Live, thanking Facebook users for helping to put her on the show, "now that I know what it is, it sounds like a huge waste of time.” Frankly, it is, even though I use it daily to announce to my thousand or more "friends" (many of whom I've never met) what I’ve posted on my cultural blogs and to wish happy birthday to acquaintances whose birthdays I might otherwise have overlooked. Basically, however, it still seems to me to be a network for those for whom it was originally intended, people looking for a place for quick, speed-date-like conversations: the young and lonely.
The film extends that by introducing yet another loser-winner, Sean Parker (smart-aleckly portrayed by singer Justin Timberlake), the man who created Napster and, later Plaxo. Parker is presented as a now nearly paranoid being who has already been nailed to the cross of his own creations, destroyed for having created something ahead of its time. Perhaps only Zuckerberg’s friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) cannot comprehend why the younger computer genius would be immediately attracted to such a figure. The two are a natural pair, and Parker, playing on Zuckerberg’s incompetent social skills—he himself being well known for his involvement with drugs, women, and liquor—provides him a kind of father-figure who encourages both Zuckerberg’s creativeness and his social inadequacy. Far more than any abuse of the Winkelvosses, whom Zuckerberg cleverly refers to as the Winkelvi, we cannot so easily forgive his betrayal of Saverin, who, after all, as Chief Financial Officer, funded Facebook in its infancy, and, although he did little to advance it, worked hard, if unsuccessfully, to raise money for its development.
Saverin (Andrew Garfield), a smart but clueless young businessman, who was finally ousted from the company and, perhaps more importantly, removed from any rational influence he might have provided his friend, has little choice but to sue Zuckerberg also. As he puts it, quite clearly, “I was your only friend.”
Los Angeles, January 2, 2011