Guest post by J.B. Waggoner
I love movies that make every word count. Most of it I miss, especially the first time around. But when you go back a second and third time, it just get’s richer. Here is the opening scene from The Social Network.
This sounds like an off-handed comment, but really it’s the crux of the movie. The dialogue is moving so quickly, I felt a lot like Erica in the scene. Barely holding on to the conversation as Mark moves back and forth between thoughts. He’s not even talking about China anymore. He’s talking about being at Harvard. How can he be noticed, seen, special.
And this is the basic core of the entire movie. STATUS.
The Social Network is the story about Mark Zuckerberg as he creates the social media giant Facebook from his dorm room all the way to 1 Million profiles. The reason I wanted to review this movie from 2010 is that it was part of a training experiment I recently did. I revisited some of my favorite movies and wrote down pivotal scenes, moments, etc, and the timestamp of when they occurred. Usually this is to find a rhythm for the overall movie beats. But with the Social Network I found basically every scene touched on the theme of STATUS.
The dialogue was just filled with qualitative statements about identity. “We thought this could rehabilitate your image.” “No one wants to take orders from a kid.” “It’s like a final club, but we are the president.” “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.” “I like standing next to you Sean. It makes me feel so tough.” And subtle looks like a guy nodding approval as they wait for their girlfriends to freshen up. Finally, the business cards with Mark’s title on them. “I’m CEO b!#%h.”
All of this is about status. It’s why I love this movie, and at the same time scares the darkness out of myself. I left this movie fully engrossed in the demise of these characters, and at the same time thinking non-stop about my own life and what I could do to reach the status of these titans of social media.
For me, the experience was even more pronounced because of my own life that was in a crazy motion at the time. The day this movie came out was the same day I made the decision to quit my job and set off on my own, back into the world of film, and eventually in a few months I would actually be living not far from Facebook’s Palo Alto campus. So in reviewing this film, I can’t talk about the movie itself with also harkening to the space I saw it in.
I wasn’t a huge Jesse Eisenberg fan, but he made this part of Mark Zuckerberg fantastic. The interviews I’ve seen Zuckerberg do are pretty overly corporate sounding, and the early ones were just heartbreaking to listen to him wade through. However Eisenberg focused solely on his narcissism, anxiety, and power grabbing with such a force that it didn’t matter what hoodie or flip-flops he was adorning at the time.
Andrew Garfield and Rooney Mara essentially played our moral compass throughout perfectly. This was Justin Timberlake’s best performance I’ve seen him in playing the devil on Zuckerberg’s shoulder. The combination of David Fincher’s cinematic eye and Trent Reznor’s (Nine Inch Nails) score never gave you time to sit idly by, and as I’ve already touched on, the script by Aaron Sorkin gets better and better the more I watch it. And I was in love with this film by the time the credits rolled in that first viewing.
It’s amazing how much life has happened since it first hit theaters four years ago. Somehow Facebook is even more of a colossus in our society, David Fincher keeps outdoing himself with each subsequent film, and revisiting this film still pulls at some of the darkest parts of my pride, dreams of notoriety, and desire for status.