The Social Network
Walking into the theatre with a vague notion that David Fincher’s new Film, The Social Network, was about the creation of Facebook, I was skeptical. How could the making of a website ever be interesting? There’s just too much math.
But what I didn’t know was that the story behind the development of the world’s most powerful social network is only partially about a nerd entering code. Beyond the computer science, it is a complicated tale, full of ethical dilemmas, wavering loyalties, and insights about the often bizarre way institutions function. Few other movies are able to pull off this type of depth, while still allowing the plot to move forward. Parts one and two of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather Trilogy come as notable exceptions.
The story, written by Aaron Sorkin, follows the life of Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, at different stages in the site’s development. Instead of adhering to chronology, Sorkin decides to skip around-moving between the year at Harvard (2003) where Zuckerberg made the website and hearings regarding two law suits filed against him, by fellow students, for intellectual property violations. After some intro scenes, the plot adheres to the following pattern: accusations about Zuckeberg’s supposed transgressions are heard in a tense conference room and then, the events from which these charges stem are played out directly after. Such a format is highly engaging since it forces the viewer to try and pick sides between Zuckerman and his various accusers. But as the film unfolds, one will find this far from easy. No character is completely innocent, and this makes for heated discussions on the ride back from the theatre.
Besides this ambiguity, Network also reveals a fascinating contradiction that exists at Harvard and to some degree, all college campuses. On one hand the level of intellectual energy is astonishing. This is the school Facebook was invented at between classes and under the influence of alcohol. Still, the Harvard portrayed in Network is also rife with a number of bizarre customs that students accept without thought. The students, who are literally changing the world with their ideas, are the same ones who carry chickens around campus to make the cut for Harvard’s exclusive fraternities.
This combination the highest and lowest forms of culture is one of the things that makes any college experience bizarrely unique, and also make’s Network worth seeing multiple times.