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But It’s Not Even About Facebook… October 3, 2010

Posted by David Card in Media.

Besides being the best live-action movie I’ve seen this year, “The Social Network” is attracting commentary along the lines of “captures the zeitgeist,” “portrait of the decade,” and all sorts of pondering about what it says about our digital society. The thing is, “The Social Network” is more about old-fashioned, meat-world style social networks than it is about Facebook.

Sure, the movie is aware of the irony that Facebook was created by a guy with no social skills and no network of his own. That’s why it’s titled as it is, and not called “The Accidental Billionaire.” It’s a really well-told tale about class, obsession, and betrayal, but it’s not about Internet social networking. That’s just the MacGuffin.

Still, how you react to the movie – and to its portrayal of (anti-)hero Mark Zuckerberg – probably depends a bit on what you already felt about Facebook before you bought your ticket. David Denby suggests in the New Yorker that there’s a creative tension between writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher:

In this extraordinary collaboration, the portrait of Zuckerberg, I would guess, was produced by a happy tension, even an opposition, between the two men—a tug-of-war between Fincher’s gleeful appreciation of an outsider who overturns the social order and Sorkin’s old-fashioned, humanist distaste for electronic friend-making and a world of virtual emotion.

Personally, I believe that Facebook is a hugely important force in online media, and probably in modern society. When Justin Timberlake – no way is Sean “Napster” Fanning Sean Parker that cool – seduces Zuck with his vision of start-up greatness, well, count me in.

I’m willing to forgive a lot of asshole-ness in pursuit of such grand goals. I suspect a lot of nerds will agree. Though it’s not about technology, this movie will launch a thousand start-ups.


1. NW - October 3, 2010

It’s not Sean Fanning in the movie, it’s Sean Parker.

David Card - October 3, 2010

Ah, good catch, NW.

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