Try as I might to convince myself that The Social Network is a work of fiction loosely based on real events, I found myself annoyed with the similarities between what I think I know (I’ll get to that) and what was on the screen. I’m not a fan of Zuckerberg, although I love his software so my discomfort had nothing to do with any awkward sympathy. No, it was that the film didn’t develop Zuck as a character enough for me, and that it didn’t capture the extremely rare moment in our global culture that he helped to create. It was too truthy to be entertaining, and too fake to be realistic.
Again, let me be clear, I think Mark Zuckerberg is an ass, at least his public persona at any rate. I saw him attempt to keynote at the SXSW Interactive Festival years ago. It was a Q&A format with a journalist who shant be name because I still feel sorry for her. He was mostly non-responsive save for the sarcastic bon mot, and he watched her go down in a blaze of grotesque self-promotional glory. Some people barf when they are nervous; the reporter vomited narcissism.
Zuckerberg’s latest PR stunt with the donation to Newark schools is one for the misdirection annals. On Oprah, she said he had wanted to remain anonymous at first, but later he was persuaded to make it public. Yes, so he just happened to be persuaded to reveal this information the week before a biopic he has publicly derided is released. Apparently there was no question on his SAT asking him if we were born yesterday.
That being said, I read David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect with complete relish and mustard, too. He really captures the genius of Zuckerberg and his cronies. The cultural moment is also conveyed without superfluous ballyhoo. I’d say read the book over the movie. I have not read The Accidental Billionaires upon which the film is based, and now I have no desire to do so.
I must give proper credit to the zippy Aaron Sorkin script. We’ve all missed Josh and C.J. delivering insider zingers in the hallways, and Sorkin does not disappoint with his 64 bit dialogue. The performances were also excellent, especially Justin Timberlake. Full disclosure: I still listen regularly to Future, Sex, Love Sounds. So there’s that.
So maybe I’m blaming director David Fincher? To be honest, I want all of his movies to be Fight Club, and that’s just not fair. Still, a shot of Tyler Durden would’ve been welcome, something to shake up Zuck’s blank stares. Really, if I wanted to watch Zuck in action, I’d call up any number of his press interviews on YouTube (I did actually for a paper last semester on privacy rhetoric.) Also, the frosty breathing special effect was too L.A. studio, not enough Boston winter. Try again, lads. I expected more from the Trent Reznor (whoa!) score, too. But again, I want all of his work to be Pretty Little Hate Machine. I’m flawed, but I’m the blogger, bitch! Bottom line, I wasn’t entertained enough. Facebook is literally my homepage. Perhaps my relationship with the material is to blame; it’s complicated.