I have really been enjoying all the responses to the movie The Social Network. We saw it last week and then I was reading some of the reviews and blogs about the movie. I am quite impressed with how many different feelings there are about these characters. I landed up doing some reading online about Mark Zuckerberg to see if there was any possibility he had Asbergers Syndrome. I wanted to read more about Sean Parker too. Vanity Fair has an online blurb with Sean Parker and I recommend it...actually, the magazines online pages have all kinds of good stuff. (including awesome productin photos from The Empire Strikes Back)
Some audiences have been pretty pissed off with this movie saying it is misogynistic. Complaining that the portrayal of women was really bad. Others feel it is a tragedy because of the breakdown of friendships. Some people feel it's a rags to riches story. Others feel it's a nerd gets back at the world story. Others feel it's the portrayal of a genius artist who fights "the Establishment". Others feel that its a story about a world "Facebook" that they feel not a part of...so their curiousity was about trying to understand what a social network is...
Social networks manifest in all of the following...blogging...the Freemasons, chess clubs, bookclubs, the paintings in caves in Europe, the PTA, the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, subdivisions, universities, rural communities, unions, managers, rolodexes, telephone books, well...you get the drift. We are all in social networks.
In the movie, The Social Network, our hero is a very immature young man. We might want to note that he is 19. I think it's folly to put an old head on young shoulders...and why would you want to?
The creator of Facebook is fictionalized in the movie and portrayed as not very good with women. Actually, all of the male characters in the movie seem abysmal with women. They just don't have a clue. Gee...big surprise...especially in college. They do some rude, insensitive things and with some nasty payback to women. They can barely even talk to women. Gee, big surprise...sounds like most of the guys I knew in school. There were the few odd young men when I was in school who were cool to girls. Few and far between...and to be honest as a bartender for over twenty years...not much has changed.
As for the portrayal of women in the film...they are looking for boys that were hot, rich and partying...ready to have sex with these guys five minutes ago. Sounds pretty typical to me. Not all young women are like this but lots are. I thought the portrayal of these women was as realistic as these men.
Young people can be insenitive and inexperienced in human relationships. Gee what a news flash!
The sexual battles in this movie are part of it's charm and realistic portrayals.There is payback and there is karma.
The difficulties of human relationships and power struggles contrasted with constructing a highly democratic web log is part of the scripts accomplishment. We have layers of hierarchy in the real world...creating a social format that resists hierarchy by it's very design is what is brilliant about the internet...and Facebook. And Mark Z. Shit, this kid Mark Z maybe should get a Nobel Peace Prize!
I am part of the audience that sees the main character as difficult and socially inept...but a kind of hero.
You know, have you seen the pirate movies with Johnny Depp? They are a lot of fun. I love pirates and pirate movies. They could have called this movie "Pirates" or Hackers" but there are already two movies with those titles.
Instead the movie is titled
In one of the pirate movies with Johnny Depp... a character is angry and betrayed and says to Captain jack Sparrow "You lied" and Captain sparrow holds up his hands and says "Pirate".
Duh. What did you expect from a pirate?
One of the main conflicts in The Social Network is a few of the supporting characters are angry because the Mark Z character has ripped them off of their idea. So they sue him.
He has ripped them off of some of their ideas...ideas he was already interested in building I might add. But out of all the people these guys could have gone to...they chose to ask for help from a hacker. What did they expect...ha ha ha.
These guys are the privedged few in our society. They are rude and dismissive of the hacker and promise him they will help him hang out with the cool people.
If you've ever ben an underdog...a loser...you can imagine how offensive this notion of being initiated into some cabal could be. Tempting but insulting.
And from there our hacker hero proceeds to create a brilliant set of programs that connect people in a very rewarding way (it's so rewarding that 500 million people are on Facebook, it can be that much fun!)
Mark Z builds an organic feeling program imitating the sensation of hanging out with your friends. It's as if he has created a sort of artificial intelligence community where people can visit and it mimics the way people move through the world. it's really quite brilliant. And there is no way the privelegded snobs could do it themselves...at least not in a few weeks.
They are pissed off because this guy builds this network without them. Uh...pirate. They believed they could get him to build this community, let them get all the profits, and his payment would be an invite to a couple of parties, and a few bucks.
Mark Z says fuck that noise and goes ahead without them. He doesn't even seem to care about the money. For him it's about the creativity and imagination. He isn't just a hacker and pirate, he's an artist.
I've really enjoyed looking into who the real-life guy Mark Z might be. He was on Oprah a few weeks ago and gave a shitload of money to the schools in New Jersey. Interesting. i have felt a little sorry for him since seeing the movie.
I am really glad no one had a camera on me when I was a kid. I was not perfect as a teen. I wasn't as nasty as he was with his girlfriend, but I wasn't an angel either. I don't know many angels from that time period, or any of my friends or peers who were angels in high school or college or at 19. Mark Z made some massively rotten decisions when it came to people skills...but he wasn't much worse than many teens and young men when they were trying to find a way to fit into society or grow up. I don't condone his treatment of his girlfriend, but most people make a lot of mistakes in their social lives when they are growing up. Sure 20 years ago it wasn't recorded on an internet site...we might not have tweeted or blogged about our anger and left a permanent record of it...but when it comes to karma...we still know what mistakes we've made in our own hearts.
I'd like to believe that the real life Mark Z might have learned how to be a better boyfriend by now. I've seen it happen with lots and lots of people. Part of the "side effects" of social networks is learning through our experiences and trying to change our behaviour. I also hope he's learned how to be a better friend.
Why? Because I believe according to the fictional story portrayed in this movie...this guy is more than a hacker. He is a person who saw through the bs in some of our social networks and behaviour. He stuck it to "the establishment" and protected himself from people who think just because they have all the money and power they can take advantage of the less socially connected people in the world. He stuck it to the people who make all the money and don't share and they hire people as slaves. Mark Z stopped himself from being such a slave. I think there are a lot of positive lessons in the Social Network.
On one hand there are people out there who take advantage of social networks, making pyramid schemes or rising to a position of power. Mark Z cut through that very powerful negative side of the social network and he also created a program that cuts through that potential for hierarchy in social networks. I hope that he can find a way to be a better person with better karma. My impression is that he has already done so by making real life work environment with a mission statement protecting humanism. And hopefully he'll keep donating money.
It seems that there might be a generational reaction to The Social Network. Audiences seem to be divided by their age/experience in reacting to this fictional account of a
From one pirate to another, I think Mark Z is a rebel and hero. I give props to anyone who can stick it to "the establishment" and I hope he can always stay one step ahead of that force. It is really hard to do as you get older...I hope age gives him compassion and doesn't make him bitter or powermad.
You can't put an old head on young shoulders...and why would you want to?