In the case of facebook (at least according to this movie), there are levels at which the creators of this new technology* don’t even know what their ideas will yield, and yet they forge on.
As is the case with most technology. Neil Postman (probably explaining other writer’s work) speaks of the way Guttenberg had no idea or intention of breaking up the Catholic church when he developed movable type. The attitude to forge on without really understanding the effects of new technology is perhaps more prevalent now (at least in the US) where any new technology is seen as an unqualified good.
But what did the film really reveal about this process?
What was so entertaining about it for you, Nathan? I enjoyed the dialogue, especially the opening scene and some others. But on a dramatic level, I felt like the film was predictable and covered a well-worn story without really adding any new dimension to this.CK covers similar ground, but I actually thought the film was more similar to There Will Be Blood (in terms of the main character and his story). Furthermore, while the acting was solid (Eisenberg, Timberlake), I didn’t find the characters memorable at all.
Perhaps The Social Network doesn’t reveal anything about the process, but it does illustrate that process skillfully.
One of my favorite moments in the movie is a little one, where Zuck (we’ll shorten his name for the sake of my typing, which was made more arduous with this parenthetical) is chillin’ in the computer lab and a classmate comes in and asks about the “relationship status” of some girl in a class they share. He absentmindedly says that people don’t walk around with signs around their necks to tell the world if they’re dating or not. And then he suddenly imagines a world in which, on the internet at least, people could have a sign around their neck. Shortly thereafter, Eduardo and his groupie girlfriend get into an argument about the fact that his relationship status hasn’t been updated yet on his facebook page. Immediately we see that Zuck’s idea can be wonderful and horrible at the same time. And it also becomes apparent in that scene that social networking (on facebook, myspace, or wherever) can have immediate and sometimes overblown consequences in the real world.
Little moments like this are what fascinated me. And the movie is chalk full of them. Was the movie predictable? Yeah, in a narrative sense, it was; largely because the movie shows it’s narrative hand early on with the deposition scenes. At that point it was no longer about asking what would happen, but enjoying what was happening.
RE: Daniel Plainview of There Will be Blood.
The key difference between Plainview and Zuck is that Plainview actively hated everyone around him (he was even so bold as to have a mini-speech about it by the campfire one night for our benifit); Zuck, on the other hand, though he does have incredible contempt for those that he perceives to be less intelligent than he is, fails mainly in one area – face to face social interaction. He simply does not understand how to navigate even some of the most basic conversations. Zuck creates thefacebook as a way for him to interact with people socially while minimizing the actual amount of face time that would normally be required. But facebook, at least in the movie’s trajectory, never blooms fully until Sean Parker comes on the scene, because unlike Zuck, Parker knows how to win friends and influence people. He also knows how to play dirty, but that’s another discussion entirely.
All this leads me to remember that I was also fascinated by all the elements that had to come together to make this thing actually work. It’s difficult to imagine how many crucial decisions went into making facebook work as a popular social networking site. Consider that in order for facebook to become successful, it had to be exclusive (by limiting itself to college campuses) and cool (by not monetizing), both of which have now been abandoned throughly. Farmville is not cool, the privacy problems are not cool, your mother’s participation in facebook is not cool. And because facebook is such a young phenomenon, we have no idea where it will go. Will it last? Will another social networking site trump it? How will social networking change in the years to come? This movie really is history written in lightning. And as a historical artifact, I think The Social Network will prove very interesting in 50 years. We will be able to look back on facebook as though looking at an infant in a photo album.
I’m sorry if all this isn’t terribly well thought out. It has been two months since seeing the movie and I’m sort of shooting from the hip here.
…where Zuck (we’ll shorten his name for the sake of my typing, which was made more arduous with this parenthetical)…
Btw, have you read Zadie Smith’s review of the film in the New York Review of Books? Based on your post, I think you might find it interesting. You can read it here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/25/generation-why/?pagination=false&printpage=true.
Anyway, I see what you mean by the way the film shows the process of the way Facebook was made. It is sort of interesting and cool, and I’m not sure why I didn’t find it more interesting and cool. The only explanation I can think of is the fact that I’ve spent some time reading about media, technology and the effects of both, and perhaps, I’m jaded to the type of processes you mention?
Actually, I just realized another explanation. I think some of the effects and details of Facebook the film reveals is not as interesting to me as the kind of you see something like Smith’s piece above. For example, Smith talks about the way that our sense of person-hood may be changing because of Facebook. And through no intention of Zuck ;) that sense is locked in due to the ubiquity of Facebook. Here’s Smith:
And what has been “locked in”? It feels important to remind ourselves, at this point, that Facebook, our new beloved interface with reality, was designed by a Harvard sophomore with a Harvard sophomore’s preoccupations. What is your relationship status? (Choose one. There can be only one answer. People need to know.) Do you have a “life”? (Prove it. Post pictures.) Do you like the right sort of things? (Make a list. Things to like will include: movies, music, books and television, but not architecture, ideas, or plants.)
Facebook and other media on the internet are re-defining key concepts like “self-hood,” “relationships,” and even “reality.” But as Neil Postman mentions, these changes go largely unnoticed. Anyway, this is the type of analysis and insight that I find more interesting than what the film portrayed. (Btw, I hope I didn’t come across sounding snooty.)
Here’s the similarity I saw. The thing that made them successful (for Plainview, it was his ruthless focus on business; for Zuck, it was his computer skills) was the very thing that prevented them from getting what they wanted most (for Plainview, I think it was a son and sense of family; for Zuckerberg it was acceptance by a certain group and love from a specific person)
Perhaps, predictability wasn’t that big of an issue for me. But what did all the scenes add up to? What do we learn or discover about Zuck and/or his friendship with his best friend (can’t remember his name)? There just seemed to be little there. Or maybe I’m just not seeing it.
- I didn’t think the film really revealed anything interested about Facebook.-
No, but it reveals some interesting things about Zuckerberg, and about the noösphere and zeitgeist out of which Facebook was made.
Possible ways of thinking about the film:
is the titular “social network” Facebook, or is it something else? For those who are familar/interested in Fincher’s other films, think about interpersonal communication as portrayed in that film (?)
Seven doesn’t have anything interesting to say about John Doe. Zodiac doesn’t have anything interesting to say about the Zodiac killer (and in fact Fincher undercuts the epistemology of Graysmith’s investigation and in some sense the ontological ground of the film itself by having multiple actors play the Zodiac during the scenes that portray the Zodiac crimes). Fight Club doesn’t tell you much about the protag of that film (not even his name).
Many of Fincher’s films seem to be about unsuccessful projects. In this film, is Facebook successful? Is Zuckerberg successful?
How about expanding on that? (Or did you do that?)
is the titular “social network” Facebook, or is it something else? For those who are familar/interested in Fincher’s other films, think about interpersonal communication as portrayed in that film (?).
I don’t think the film has to say anything interesting about the characters, relationship or even have a compelling story. But there hast to be something interesting that it is saying. For example, Se7en may not say anything interesting about John Doe (although I think he is a very original “villain”—and maybe one of the most interesting “villains” of all-time), but I do think the movie is about something interesting—namely the point that as a society we no longer feel guilty or bothered by things (i.e. the seven deadly sins) that we should. The film is also interesting in the indirect way it sends this message (sort of like Plato using Socrates or Kierkegaard writing under various pseudonyms).
If Social Network had or did something similar, I wouldn’t care about the bland characters or the predictable story so much. If there is something like that from the film, I’d be interested in hearing about it.
I don’t think Zuckerberg is successful. Not sure about Facebook, but I’m not sure what you’re getting at?
- I do think the movie is about something interesting—namely the point that as a society we no longer feel guilty or bothered by things (i.e. the seven deadly sins) that we should.-
So, you identify with the killer? . . . Interesting. :)
Sure…anyone else think that there were similarities between John Doe and Sorkin’s fictionalized Zuckerberg? We’re wowed by their technical virtuosity into kind of becoming invested in their misanthropy (hell, the draw of SE7EN was to go to the theater to see just how imaginatively this whacko could cut people up). Not full emotional identification, but still maybe even more complex.
It just tells a straightforward narrative and was exactly as I expected it to be. It’s a slick piece or work, and utterly forgettable, a “cometh the man” fable…when the time is ripe in the maelstrom of human development for a new phenomenon to arise with widespread implcitions there will be the perfect guy to make it happen, and such is the perfectly combined creature Zuck. It’s a movie to me, not a film… I was interested in Fincher’s comments about Fight Club being more than the sum of its parts and Panic Room being the sum of its parts but that you don’t love your children any less just because they’re different. And that Fight Club is a film, whereas Panic Room a movie. I think of Social Netowrk as a movie, and the sum of its parts… it doesn’t say anything “profound or true” but does it have to, to be “great”? Gets back to that argument again doesn’t it? My answer is yes, I think a film does have to say something profound to enter the hallowed halls of “great”, and to be more than the sum of its parts. I dont think Social Network is “the best movie of all time” and I don’t even understand the question posited by this thread it seems an absurd notion to me that it would be the best movie of all time, but then maybe if we reduce it to “movie” it might be in the running, I dunno. But how and why will it be remembered? To me, as a well made/written as well as it could be/ staccato like delivery of a mildly engaging/interesting story of the rise of Facebook. Full stop.
I wonder if the current WikiLeaks drama will be made into a movie one day – who would make it and who would star as Julian Assange. And what is that guy trying to achieve anyway?!?
The dude’s a good old-fashioned techno-anarchist, no? He’s like someone out of a William Gibson novel. Actually, Fincher wouldn’t be a bad choice to make such a film.
“It’s a movie to me, not a film”
Obnoxious snob moron detected.
-anyone else think that there were similarities-
Absolutely. Although, similarly, I think there’s a way to read the film as being “about” Somerset rather than “about” Doe that makes it a more interesting film (but maybe that’s best left for another time).
-The dude’s a good old-fashioned techno-anarchist, no?-
Unfettered access to information . . . was that what the internet was supposed to be about in the first place?
You might not want to get to close to me. :)
Seriously, do you agree with my take on the film? I think Doe is a cipher for Fincher.
I think there are similarities between Zuck and Doe, but I don’t think Se7en is about Doe. What it’s about or, perhaps more accurately, what it’s trying to do is to get the audience to care about certain moral precepts like greed, lust, etc. Btw, according to the 1001 Movies book, the film was allowed to screen in Iran.
My understanding is that he doesn’t that government should be completely open.
Obnoxious snob moron detected
Fincher makes such distinctions, wonder which category he himself puts TSN
There is no best movie of all time…
Assange has stated pretty clearly he wants to bring down America a couple of notches, no two ways about it. I wonder if a film was made that that would be intrinsic to his character.
“I think there’s a way to read the film as being “about” Somerset”
Sure…I think it’s about the two of them having fundamentally different outlooks on the same world, and I love that we get Somerset’s voice-over for the first time in a 2 hour movie at the very, very end, as literally the last word. Huge screenwriting no-no as far as voice-overs, but it just is perfect. I only just noticed last week, reviewing the opening, that bookending that voice-over nicely is the cut from Somerset sitting in bed listening to the tireless, threatening urban soundscape to the now (in)famous credit sequence. That, for example, can be read simultaneously as the moment when Doe’s character begins definitively infecting the rest of the film (via its aesthetic of ubiquitous putrefaction) or conversely as Somerset’s nightmare of the worst the world has to offer, the motivation for continuing to fight on the police force. Good work, Fincher!
-the worst the world has to offer, the motivation for continuing to fight on the police force.-
Right, in that sense, it’s a sort of antithesis to (switching directors here) No Country For Old Men. Both lawman, old men near the End, and what’s left of the world is, well, no country for old men. But while Ed Tom decides it’s time to set sail for Byzantium:
" The second one, it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night, goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and snowin, hard ridin. Hard country. He rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin goin by. He just rode on past and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down, and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. Out there up ahead.
And then I woke up."
“‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.”
Hey haters! What film is getting the most respect this year? I guess y’all probably don’t feel so good about making fun of me now.
What film is getting the most respect this year?
“this year” doesn’t = “all time”
““this year” doesn’t = “all time””
Depends on your idea of presentism. I guess Elmer only lives in the moment.
I’m a little late but…in my opinion it is.
Haters can Suck. It.
But what can the skeptics do? Gently Slurp. It?
Not sure about Greg X’s assertion that this is Sorkin’s film in that it is of-a-piece with Zodiac written by
Vanderbilt/Graysmith. I was going to use the word milieu, but I see Matt used noösphere and zeitgeist.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from a review one could call ‘off’: Fincher’s direction in The Social Network is a fidelity to the letter of the script, but not its spirit.
I liked this line in the film: Every creation myth needs a devil.
The literary underpinnings of the film is that it is a fiction about the ‘real’. The problematic scene was when Zuck joins the twins. I prefer it to have been an impulsive act, which fits the characterization. Later he thinks it through – and that is the basis of the milieu of 20-somethings – act first, think later (if at all).( Prime example: Sean Parker – yes he changed the music industry, which was already going down the toilet – he gave it that extra flush and didn’t make a dime in the process – fucking brilliant!)
The film’s reference to paranoia I think is indicative of revolutionaries and their attainment of power – so many examples I can’t choose just one. In this case, they have an entire world of power, without many constraints, before them. In some ways, a metaphor for the inexperience of youth.
Maybe I should have given this a 10/10.
Perhaps I acted impulsively and didn’t think it through….
Sorkin’s film would have been 2 hours and 30 minutes, minimum. Fincher somehow made it 2 hours, flat…I think in large part thanks to his experience as a music video director and his collaboration with Reznor. The ambient soundscapes really lubricated the rapid jumps between the many times and spaces Sorkin crafted in his passages heaviest on parallel editing. Also, Fincher’s comic timing as a director of performances really determined the overarching rhythm of the editing in advance. The guy’s just too good.
“Hey! Shark Week’s on!”
Robert, what I was saying was that Social Network can also be seen as a Sorkin film, that his contribution shapes the film as well as Fincher’s, and if it were looked it as being a part of Sorkin’s body of work, just as people do with Fincher, one can gain a further understanding of it as it, like so many films doesn’t hold a single “aboutness” as much as a number of different concepts that are vying with each other for notice or legibility. To try and measure the film as being purely part of the Fincher oeuvre is to limit meaning unnecessarily as it connects the film to certain concerns but may ignore others not typical of Fincher, but more typical of Sorkin. It streamlines the understanding but it denies some complexities or tensions in doing so. Auteurism tends to favor the visual over the non-visual when they both should be taken into account even if they contradict each other or merely come at similar issues from slightly different directions.
@ Ben Simington
I would agree with the bulk of what you said and I guess the answer is not to try to separate the two or
use complexity as an argument against auteurism.
Auteurism was initially intentionally vague and it has been ground down by polemics to the point of being useless.
Theories help focus perception and once they are fully realized we tend to move on.
I am ready for the replacement theory, but not willing to give up auteurism until the next thing comes along – and it aint the essay film…
The Social Network is a fantastic film, but there are many, many movies I could think about putting ahead of it.
“I guess the answer is not to try to separate the two or use complexity as an argument against auteurism.”
Right, you could also approach The Social Network as, say, a Jeff Cronenweth film, and that doesn’t necessarily invalidate an auteurist approach.
Yes, if auteurism is an approach it’s fine, when it is the approach there can be problems.
I love the film, and Fincher. It was one of, if not my favorite film of last year.
But this is ridiculous.