We all like rags to riches stories, but this film is more of a socially empty but brilliant student at an exclusive American University to riches story. I couldn’t help but be fascinated at the way the Zuckerberg character nailed a structure which could attract so many users and so many users so fast. Also really interesting is his understanding that the old model of using advertising to “monetize” the idea was the wrong way to go.
Zuckerberg is portrayed in a very unflattering light, as a character who posesses a tag-team of lovable characteristics – he’s both uncaring and cruel. And along the way he gets mentored by Sean Parker, played very well by Justin Timberlake, a character who is basically a selfish and self-indulgent jerk. And yet we’re riveted to the whole business because of the monsterous success of the venture.
Facebook users have one attribute and that is that they are the judges of what the Zuckerberg character calls cool. Several times in the film, it is suggested that Facebook is cool and Zuckerberg doesn’t want to lose that. Otherwise, users are just that quantity that need to be manipulated or influenced.
What the movie fails to provide is much context for the nature of Zuckerberg’s character. When we meet him he already has poor social skills, he’s rude and unfeeling and petulant and ambitious. I wonder what his family life was like? Perhaps the point is you need to be unfeeling to break down the social experience of college and translate it into a structure that enables users to make social connections through a computer network without having to actually have any face to face social interaction.
To put my own comments in context, I should disclose that I am not a Facebook user, so while I recognize the curious attractiveness of this social network, I have not experienced it first hand. I suppose that is odd for someone who has been a blogger for a number of years, but I simply haven’t been interested. I don’t use Twitter either and, while I’m in full disclosure mode, I don’t own a personal cell phone either. My alter ego does have a presence on Linked In, with connections mostly to people I know through my day job.
The Social Network is a good film, largely because of the story, and it’s supported by some very good performances. I noted that on Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 97% critics approval rating, very high indeed. I don’t think it’s a great film though. On the 5 fish Anchovy Rating Scale, I give this one a solid 3 salties.