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Movies & TV

10th Jan 2018

The Social Network remains as perfect as ever because it understands what few films don’t

Paul Moore

“You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be.”

When The Social Network was announced, very few people would have expected David Fincher to accept a friend request from Hollywood to make a film about Mark Zuckerberg. Known for his serial killer dramas and unique visual flair, the director of Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac appeared to be an odd fit for this tale of computer codes, billion dollar ideas, and betrayal.

How wrong we were.

A cold and ruthless person that’s willing to sacrifice any sense of morality and maintain a smirk while doing so. A woefully misguided man that ultimately becomes a monster while attempting to reorder the world.

These are two sentences that you could use to define Tyler Durden (Fight Club) or John Doe (Se7en). They’re also equally applicable to this on-screen version of Facebook’s founder – brilliantly played by Jesse Eisenberg.

Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, The Social Network remains one of the best dramas of the decade because Fincher understands one key truth about humanity that’s rarely been depicted better, ambitious people will always look out for number one and they’ve no qualms about f**king over anyone that’s in their way.

Since Hollywood’s inception, audiences around the world have been constantly sold the idyllic version of the American dream. Work hard, be fair, trust in God and everything will be fine.

Fincher knows that this is complete and utter crap.

Hell, the tagline for the film even says “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” and as cold and brutal as this lesson is, the film perfectly captures what drives a person to the point in their life where selfishness, lies, resentment, greed, and betrayal are second nature. Sadly, as we all know, it’s the self-serving people that get ahead in big business.

Ends justify the means. Good guys get shit on. Being first is everything and so on.

On another level, isn’t it wonderfully ironic that arguably the greatest tool for communication in the modern age was created by someone who has no idea how to relate to other people?

In terms of its technical skill, The Social Network is utterly brilliant. Aaron Sorkin’s script is superb – that first scene in the bar has more punch to it than 90 minutes of most other films – and the performances are excellent throughout. Special praise goes to Justin Timberlake for his charming and swarmy take on the founder of Napster, Sean Parker.

Aside from this, the hidden MVP’s of the film are Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross because their dark ambient score is mesmeric throughout.

Make no mistake about it, The Social Network is Shakespeare for the smartphone generation. It’s Citizen Kane with computer coders. More importantly, it’s a film that perfectly reflects its era.

We’re going to borrow one of Sorkin’s most famous lines of dialogue to make a point. Do you know who Roy Raymond was?

“A Stanford MBA named Roy Raymond wants to buy his wife some lingerie but he’s too embarrassed to shop for it at a department store. He comes up with an idea for a high-end place that doesn’t make you feel like a pervert. He gets a $40,000 bank loan, borrows another $40,000 from his in-laws, opens a store, and calls it Victoria’s Secret. Makes a half million dollars his first year. He starts a catalog, opens three more stores and after five years he sells the company to Leslie Wexner and the Limited for four million dollars. Happy ending, right? Except two years later, the company’s worth 500 million dollars and Roy Raymond jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge.”

On that note, any ideas what film beat The Social Network for Best Picture at the 2010 Oscars?

The King’s Speech.

Two awful decisions.

Isn’t it ironic that the biopic about Mark Zuckerberg will be more fondly remembered than that of King George VI?

Just like the ending of Se7en, sometimes, the asshole wins.

The Social Network is now available to watch on Netflix.

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