The Social Network

2010, David Fincher. BAM.

"He's wired in." 

At Harvard University, where buildings on campus stand 100 years older than America, new ideas are propelled into the world - usually by students who never graduate, like William S. Burroughs, or Mark Zuckerberg.  Zuckerberg is not an artist, nor is he a countercultural icon, but he is an alienated social misfit. He is hyper-intelligent in that he doesn't think before he speaks, though often his speech is bright and smartass - unless he is talking to girls. Like Erica, his girlfriend, tells him in the beginning, he isn't a nerd, but an asshole. And Zuck's face shrinks up like a squeezed lemon when the negative consequences of his actions confront him.
Soc Net begins with a conversation, and ends with the doubleclick, the refresh, of continuing that conversation. "Facebook" is borne of an old boys club.  At the dance for Jewish students, the only females are sexy Asians.  Eduardo says the idea is that they wanna get laid, but Zuckerberg amends that it's "to get a girlfriend." Eduardo ends up dating the groupie who blows him in the bathroom and then who later lights his apartment on fire, jealous because his relationship status is "single."  Much of the drama finds a source in the searing vindictiveness of post-teen males against females, and the females' willingness to be objectified as a way of empowerment.  Hotties show up by the busload at frat parties and striptease to Trent Reznor music.  Zuckerberg exploits this with his "Who's Hotter?" app, but all the girls are mortified when their reality is reduced to an algorithm of which they have no control.

The Winklevi are traditional Harvard men. They don't sue to settle a score, but prefer an allegiance to Harvard Law, like some blueblooded pointdexter out of 1920s comedy.  But when the Winklevi bring their case to the College president, Larry Summers, they find a seasoned powerbroker with little regard for the dictates and traditions of justice.  Summers had demonstrated a similar callous braggadocio as Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton in his involvement with deregulation of derivatives contracts.  As a result of the mortgage crisis, Wall Street turned to the U.S. government as do the Winklevi to Harvard Pres. Larry Summers.

The ads for the movie portray Zuckerberg as an activist and rebel distinct among the masses. But of course the movie is premised on his theft of others' ideas and money, as well as his awkwardness with chicks. Zuck dresses like a dirtbag - ubiquitous blue Adidas flipflops and Gap hooded sweatshirt, jammy bottoms which may or may not be jizz-stained.  Zuckerberg is a quick mind but not exactly innovative or problem-solving. His one sole invention is the program that allows dudes to vote Who's Hotter when presented with two random pics of campus co-eds. The cast is presented as characters based on real people, equally removed from as they are woven up in the reality of one's own Facebook page.  On the red carpet at the 2010 Golden Globes, Jesse Eisenberg explained that he has never met Mark Zuckerberg, but only played the character MZ as written by Aaron Sorkin, the scriptwriter.  Joe Pesci might have said the same thing about Tommy DeSimone in Goodfellas.

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