After nearly a year lay-off from his LWB debut, Oobstastic is back…
Just finished watching the Social Network…
When the trailer was out, I thought this was bound to suck. I continued to believe this until my Dad saw it and told me how good it was.
I asked him, “Dad, what makes it so good? Isn’t it just about a stupid goddamned website?”
“No, son”, he said. “It is an exploration of the dynamism inherent in American society, as well as an assessment of the permanence of traditional class structures.”
He did not actually say this. That was my interpretation. What he actually said was: “You’ll laugh when you see what a bunch of useless assholes those Winklevoss twins are.”
So what about the socio-cultural analysis? It’s in there. The film, and by extension the real-life story, features the same sorts of fascinating characters that F. Scott Fitzgerald or Tolstoy might have invented.
Let’s start with the lawyers. The actual vehicle for conveying the plot is a series of deposition hearings which take place in fancy, wood-paneled law offices. Not only was this a clever move from a screenwriting perspective, but it served to immediately impress upon the viewer what worthless tools litigators can be (sorry, litigators).
The partners are old, vaguely unattractive, pedantic, condescending – and most importantly, an accessory to the plot. They don’t make anything happen. They simply:
- Piss off Mark Zuckerberg,
- Insult the Spanish guy with the slick hair, making him weep
- Walk through 1st grade math ($18,000 plus $1,000 equals $19,000)
- Presumably make $1M each year in salary for performing these rudimentary tasks
Next are the Winklevoss twins. I actually enjoyed watching these guys enormously, as they reminded me of 50% of the people I knew in college. They have a gargantuan sense of entitlement, have an outsized opinion of their own intelligence and cleverness, and wear Brooks Brothers all the time.
They represent privilege, money, the Hamptons, secret societies, and Olympic rowing.
The Winklevoss twins are hilarious because they expected to make millions of dollars off the hard work of Zuckerberg; lacking the practical skills (programming) or vision to make any of it happen themselves.
The Winklevoss twins are also frightening, because they did make millions of dollars off of Zuckerberg’s hard work ($65M), and because all over the globe people like the Winklevosses currently make money off of creative, hard-working people simply because they have better access to capital, good lawyers, expensive loafers, etc.
Next is Zuckerberg himself. He is the sun, and the rest of the cast are planets orbiting around him. No matter how old and educated (the lawyers), wealthy and privileged (Winklevosses) or good natured (Spanish kid) these people might be, they all succumb to the will of Zuckerberg and no one can resist his gravitational pull.
He is like Julius Caesar or George Patton or Mussolini; men that change the course of history while nursing massive character defects and feeling empty inside.
You leave the movie respecting Zuckerberg, but not liking him, and certainly not wanting to be him. So what is the moral of this story? Does Aaron Sorkin leave us with any message?
He most certainly does.
The lesson to take away is that Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) is the most well-adjusted, most admirable, most sympathetic character in the whole film.
Please note that this is not Sean Fanning (the creator of Napster) as we are led to believe, but one of Fanning’s associates who really did travel from dance club to dance club and dot com to dot com wreaking havoc along the way.
Parker is likeable. He makes friends easily. He has no trouble sleeping with women or getting them to come over his house to play Halo and take bong hits.
He is skilled at organization and management, immediately recognizing and reinforcing the value of Facebook’s work culture. He understands the importance of geography, moving the operations to Palo Alto. He correctly judges the need to secure financing, and dramatically expands the company’s asset base by brokering deals with VC investors. And he recognizes the need to reward employees for their hard work, by planning an awesome party when Facebook hits one million members.
Sure, he gets caught sniffing some coke with interns at the end of the film. Who among us is truly fit to judge?
At the end of the day, Parker has it all – he retains 7% of the company (worth about one billion dollars), he’s smart, he has friends, and he knows how to party.
Lesson learned. Now let’s immediately start planning how we can follow in his illustrious footsteps…
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