Being a ginormous David Fincher fan, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Friday’s release of The Social Network. And this comes from a person who doesn’t give two shi*s about Facebook. That’s right, I’m one of the fourteen people who doesn’t have a Facebook account and has zero plans to ever sign up for one.
It’s not that I have anything against the internet conglomerate. It’s just that I don’t care to look at pictures of my college girlfriend’s baby, read about how amazing my ex-co-worker Dave’s vacation to Australia was, or be subjected to scores of inane babble regurgitated on a daily basis by people I barely know. Other than that, I love social networking. No, really.
But I digress. I’m here to spout my own brand of inane babble in regards to what Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin hope to deliver with their very modern and very relevant expose. Watching a big screen treatment of an entity’s rise to prominence so soon after bursting onto the scene can come across as revisionist history, if the filmmakers aren’t careful.
I wasn’t attending Harvard in 2003 when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his nerd herd stole devised the plans for their international web empire. Nor did I know anything about the site until it became part of the pop culture lexicon right around the year 2007. Therefore I wasn’t privy to all the closed-door meetings, under the table deals and shady business practices that may or may not have occurred, but are most assuredly covered in the fictional representation.
The writer of the nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires (which the film is adapted from), Ben Mezrich, wasn’t privy to the goings-on either, but he did use Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin as a consultant. Does this mean audiences will get the straight story, or the over-hyped, oversexed, sensationalized version Hollywood usually rolls out for mass consumption? Never mind. That was a rhetorical question.
Honestly, I’ve been enamored with the trailers for the flick since they started popping up a few months ago. They make these guys’ and gals’ lives seem infinitely more exciting than I’m sure they were. The money, the power, the women, the backstabbing, the lawsuits… it looks and sounds like launching what would become a billion dollar cashcow website was the greatest thing since the last billion dollar cashcow website carpet bombed cyber space (old term).
Maybe it was as exhilarating and dramatic as Fincher and Sorkin paint it to be. Maybe 99% of what we will see actually happened. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg was the Tony Montana of social networking. Maybe everything he and his geek gang achieved not only marked a crucial turning point in the world of online business, but also marked a crucial turning point in the way society interacts and functions in the 21st century.
Or maybe it’ll be just another mildly amusing romp about an ambitious group of horny coeds who rather than start a band or join the football team, decided to pool together their collective computer knowledge to create a service that would make them stacks of cash and get them laid.
I sincerely hope it’s not just another Real Genius, which didn’t take itself seriously, or Blow, which took itself too seriously. Both are excellent films, but I’m optimistic with heavyweights like Fincher and Sorkin at the controls, The Social Network will be something more. I want to see T&A and drunken parties, but I also want to see the forces behind one of today’s largest and most influential online corporations at work. In other words, I want to see what made these guys tick six years ago.
Where did the original idea for Facebook germinate? How did Zuckerberg know it would succeed? Did he willingly deceive others to reach his goal, and if so, what were the moral repercussions for his actions? Obviously a movie isn’t going to accurately answer all my queries. It’s not a documentary, so its first priority is to entertain. This I know.
However, an outright bastardization of the truth in order to titillate and evoke false emotions (i.e., Oscar bait) will do a disservice to what Zuckerberg and his friends accomplished at the tender age of 19. Despite my indifference toward Facebook, I’m genuinely fascinated with how it came to be. As someone who spends a large amount of his time trying to crack the code to earning a living online, I find those who’ve tamed the game worthy of closer examination.
I’ve rambled long enough and probably made very little sense, even to myself. Oh well. In summary, my fingers are crossed The Social Network operates on multiple levels beyond the visceral. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my movies to have both a heart and brain. Unfortunately, those are in short supply these days.