Oscarbait 2010: The Social Network

I know that for many of the people in my generation (the so-called Facebook generation), the main reaction to the announcement of this film was "meh" and a shrug. For whatever reason, the establishment movie-sphere and media (at least 20 years ahead in age) are completely enamored by the topic, while for people my age it's just one tool that exists in our lives (and often a hassle requiring eagle eyes on privacy settings).

So when the critical hoopla about the film reached a fever pitch, I started to question why it was that I had no interest in seeing the movie (not in the theater, at least). Once I enumerate them, I will answer them in the next section, having seen the movie (loved it).
  1. Oversaturation: I was sick of every move that FB makes being front page news, especially when it was starting to be seen as more of a menace than a tool (anonymous bullying, data mining, privacy violations, etc).
  2. Accusations that the film is rabidly misogynistic: these criticisms were loud enough that Aaron Sorkin actually issued a formal response to people criticising the film on this level. Given that he felt a need to respond, it suggested to me (falsely, mind you) that there was some truth to the accusation.
  3. The Aaron Sorkin Factor: I love the West Wing, I LOVE Sports Night, but lets face it: Sorkin's movie output hasn't been that appealing, and I was worried about the fact that, much like his Charlie Wilson's War, he admitted upfront that he invented most of the story.
  4. I kinda assumed it would be boring: This probably ties back into point 1, but having heard so much about Mark Zuckerberg, and yet so little of actual substance, I assumed the movie would suffer the same failing.
Ok, and then, as I was busy riding on my obviously superior lack of need to see this film, my boyfriend got two tickets to see it, and naturally I went. And loved it. Point by point on my own assumptions:
  1. Oversaturation: The greatest thing about the movie is that while it's ostensibly about Facebook, it's really more of a Greco-Roman tragedy of brotherhood. The central line running through the film is the foundation and destruction of the friendship between Zuckerberg and Saverin, and the betrayals and interlopers seeking to hasten that destruction for their own devious ends. That said, I still wish it wasn't 'about' Facebook. The way the story was structured, it would have been interesting no matter what it was about. The acting, the directing, the story itself would have been better served without the distraction of 'facebook.'
  2. Accusations that the film is rabidly misogynistic: I think I'm pretty attuned to (and some might say over-attuned to) slights against the feminist body politic. That said, as with most cases where things just get out of hand, I suspect the accusations were made without any reference to the text: many of the protesters cannot have seen the movie. Those that make the argument in good faith seem to be confusing the admittedly rabid misogyny of the lead characters with some sort of point behind the writer. 'Nerd doesn't get the girl which then drives his messianic desire to take over the universe while maintaining a healthy hatred of women' is a fairly timeless plot, and no one really thinks Star Wars or Buffy is misogynistic because of that theme, for instance. Yes, Mark Zuckerberg treats women like dirt, but to be fair he treats everyone like dirt (except for his idol, Sean Parker)
  3. The Aaron Sorkin Factor: While I dwelled on my worries on this point, apparently I forgot to consider his main strength: cracking dialogue. The dialogue is sharp all throughout, especially Zuckerberg's and the Winklevi's.
  4. I kinda assumed it would be boring: Wrong, wrong, I was oh, so wrong. Did I mention destruction, betrayal, interlopers and hatred? These are strong characters, played by very strong actors (and yes, Justin Timberlake fits into that camp). And of course the soundtrack really strengthens the suspence in the movie. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have done a fantastic job, drawing from what sounds like lost tracks from The Downward Spiral. The technoey beats with the soft piano licks is perfect for what's happening in the development scenes: you have the classical desires for greatness and revenge, and the modern weapon known as the internet.
The best thing that has come out of this movie is that finally, FINALLY, people will stop confusing Jesse Eisenberg with Michael Cera. I've seen 4 movies with Eisenberg where he effectively plays completely different characters, while Cera is trapped in George-Michael hell (sad but true).

So, in a nutshell, see it or don't, but I think it's only fair to tell you that it's probably not what you expect. It's certainly not perfect, but it's entertaining and interesting, and you barely notice the time passing by.

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