22 October 2015:
Who knew the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was such an asshole – and a charming one at that? At least, that’s the way David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin portrayed Zuckerberg in their 2010, three-time Oscar winning film, The Social Network. Surprise, the youngest billionaire in history isn’t exactly a genius when it comes to maintaining relationships. The Social Network, a story of an anti-hero’s rise to fame and fortune, is my favorite movie because of the expertly executed script, the alluring portrayal of the youthful work-hard, play-hard mentality, and the surprising similarities to what has been considered the best film of all time, Citizen Kane.
Aaron Sorkin’s intricately elegant, 162-page script is the key element which makes this movie the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner. The dialogue often feels mathematical, like a program in which the actors, namely Jesse Eisenberg, are executing flawlessly. In fact, the director of the film, David Fincher, jokingly commented in the 2010 Daily Variety article, “In Their Own Words,” how Eisenberg was “genetically created in a petri dish to spout Sorkin.” Indeed, this statement bares truth; listening to Jesse deliver Sorkin’s powerful, clever, no-syllable-wasted lines of dialogue gave me full-body chills on multiple occasions throughout the story, but Sorkin’s script didn’t win an Oscar simply because of a few witty comebacks. In his script, Sorkin is able to juggle multiple streams of dialogue – even multiple scenes – at the same time, which enables him to pack in more information faster, and he does this without compromising the quality of the story. For example, Eduardo Saverin’s recollection of when he and Zuckerberg met Sean Parker spanned across a four-year time gap, half in the office which Saverin was suing Zuckerberg, and the rest at the upscale sushi bar, full of big-breasted women bearing bottomless cocktails. Bouncing back and forth across time not only highlights the importance of the monumental impression Eduardo knows Parker left upon Zuckerberg, but also allows Eduardo to give his personal spin on the situation. “He owned Mark after that dinner,” is the line that beautifully and simply delivers the message that this dinner was beginning of the end to a beautiful friendship. As a young writer, I aspire to write dialogue similar to Sorkin’s, which accurately displays different human emotions and opinions while simultaneously giving the audience an adrenaline rush from how quickly they are forced to absorb all the information.
As a movie that is constructed majorly within the microcosm of college, this film is extremely alluring relatable for college students, such as myself. Even from the beginning of the movie, when Zuckerberg is rattled by the disturbing outcome from the conversation with love interest, Jessica Albright, he goes straight to his dorm room, pulls a beer out of the fridge, and uses his anger as fuel for an original, creative, and ultimately fast-grossing website he decides to code. As a college student who is up to her neck in responsibilities, letting loose and expressing myself creatively have become the two factors which I believe have prevented me from having a mental breakdown; The Social Network’s correlation between intoxication and creative genius makes this film extremely alluring and relatable to me. One of the most ramped up, work-hard, play-hard scenes in the movie is the coding competition Zuckerberg holds to determine who will be the new additions to Facebook. The raucous room is filled with large, half-exposed bosoms, imbibing scholars, and at the center of all the chaos, creative intellectuals doing what they do best. “Every 10th line of code written, they have to drink a shot. And hacking’s supposed to be stealth, so anytime the server detects an intrusion, the candidate responsible has to drink a shot. I also have a program running that has a pop-up window appear simultaneously on all five computers–the last candidate to hit the window has to drink a shot. Plus every three minutes they all have to drink a shot.” I can’t help but smile while watching these ingenious scholars partake in this party-atmosphere competition, and hope that one day I, too, can be involved in something so enticing, so important, so fun as that coding party.
What astounds me the most about this film is the growing number of similarities to the 1941 cinematic masterpiece, Citizen Kane. Even comparing Mark Zuckerberg to Charles Foster Kane, their personalities, more often than not, are one in the same. “A common adventurer, spoiled, unscrupulous, irresponsible,” are insults directed at Kane by his adopted father and business partner, Walter P. Thatcher, yet these attributes are extremely accurate in terms of Zuckerberg’s personality as well. After his creative, fast-grossing website, FaceMash crashed the Harvard server, Mark responded with his cocky arrogance, demanding how he “deserve[s] some recognition from this Board” for “pointing out some pretty gaping holes in [their] system.” This response shows how unscrupulous and irresponsible Zuckerberg is, not even admitting fault for unethically hacking into multiple systems and crashing an ivy-league server. Even their products, Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Kane’s The Enquirer, bare striking similarities; the one I found most striking is the “manner in which he [Kane] has persistently attacked the American traditions of private property.” Both popular businesses aimed at continuously entertaining the public, making mountains out of molehills, and the mundane lives of citizens into hot, flashy news; The Enquirer became a twice-daily publishing newspaper that regarded anything, and everything as news. Likewise, Facebook evolved into an infinite entertainment loop consisting solely of the everyday lives of its users. The list of similarities continues: the way both love interests left them due to their selfishness, the reasons and means in which their elite business teams were built, and in the way that they both grew to become these admired, yet despised public figures. “Despite Zuckerberg’s anti-hero role in the film, Sorkin identified with him as a complicated character whose entrepreneurial dreams and youth isolate him from the rest of the world” (Grosz, MAKING OF The Social Network ). Can’t Zuckerberg’s and Sorkin’s names in this sentence be replaced with Kane’s, and Wells’, and still bare the same truth?
Sorkin’s calculated and emotionally-driven script paired with Fincher’s artistic mis-en-scene combine to create a movie that is as fun to watch as it is stressful. Because of this movie’s calculated and computer fast script, the appeal to collegiate youth, and the vast number of similarities to Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane, The Social Network is my favorite modern movie. The character’s actions and dedication constantly teach me interesting life lessons, which I can appreciate as I mature into adulthood. Hopefully, I won’t lose as many friends as Zuckerberg, but my fingers are crossed that I can come up with an idea as revolutionary as his.
Grosz, Christy. “MAKING OF The Social Network.” Hollywood Reporter 15 Dec. 2010: n. pag. Print.
“IN THIER OWN WORDS: DAVID FINCHER ‘The Social Network'” The Daily Variety, 2010. Web. Couldn’t find the author’s name.
Sorkin, Aaron. The Social Network. Hollywood: Relativity Media, n.d. Pdf. <http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/movies/thesocialnetwork/awards/thesocialnetwork_screenplay.pdf>
Wells, Orson, and Herman J. Mankiewicz. “Citizen Kane.” Script for Citizen Kane. N.p., 1941, Web. <http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/citizenkane.html>.