"I don't care if it hurtsâ€.
Clearly, this is the case with David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin. How else can you explain the existence of The Social Network, which looks to be the most vacuous movie of 2010 to come from an allegedly respectable writer and director?
Now, I'm no longer convinced of David Fincher's talent: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was bloated, the best part was Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett was frankly wasted.
Worse than that, of course, was the inexplicably lauded Zodiac, a film singularly lacking in tension or interest that placed guilt solely at the foot of a dead guy who can’t defend himself. It was anything but a triumph (and I was forced to see it instead of the far superior Half Nelson).
As for Aaron Sorkin – to be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen anything he’s done except for The American President. I guess that was good. Anyway, these are good names. But how can this be a good movie?
Just look at it.
A girls’ choir sings Radiohead’s “Creep” over shots of Jesse Eisenberg looking evil, people partying and "dramatic scenes of destructionâ€. Why is a girls’ choir singing a song about a man with crippling self-esteem issues who is fixated on a woman? Because it is a singularly bad idea. This is the only explanation.
I would say, “I don’t care that this movie is about Facebook”, but I guess I do. This trailer shows why this is the case, in that it exposes the culture that allowed Facebook to grow into the behemoth that it became. American popular culture really canonizes “college life” as the best thing ever, the only thing that anyone in America truly lives for.
“College life” of course means “keggers”, because nothing says higher education like conspicuous consumption of alcohol and possibly a bit of marijuana. (The legality of cannabis is literally the only political policy that matters to anyone – everything else is irrelevant).
Do we want a movie that shows this? What looks utterly repellent to me (upper class snoots drinking!) probably looks like the dream to a lot of people. Watching it again, I actually feel a little sick watching the bacchanalian exploits of these overstuffed youth. The tagline we’ve been given is “You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”. Deep.
We have kind of learned in recent times that Mark Zuckerberg, co-creator of Facebook, is kind of a dick. A twenty three year old billionaire is sure to get an inflated sense of self worth. He's paradoxically quite secretive and Ben Mezrich's book, which provided most of the "inspirationâ€ for the book, was written more as a series of hyperbolic suppositions than anything approximating truth. Zuckerberg would not speak to him.
Here Jesse Eisenberg (some might say "the poor man's Michael Ceraâ€ … not me, oh no) plays a baby faced Satan. He’s like Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, except not Shia LaBeouf and therefore not an automatic failing grade. Does he look compelling in the role? No. The Social Network is the cinematic definition of “privileged white people”. If white people bore you, they’re probably going to bore you here in ways that you never knew it was possible to be bored.
I think that the problem is likely that Facebook is now part of the furniture. I’m not going to bother criticising it here because people use it in different ways, but of course Zuckerberg has done a wonderful job of compromising the privacy of everyone who doesn’t consider the implications of what they have agreed to. For some people, Facebook is all there is to the internet. “Social Networking” is the currency for the youth of today, and that's not necessarily bad but it can lead to a myopic view of the online landscape.
My secret hope is that soon enough Facebook becomes as irrelevant as Myspace so that this movie becomes a weird curio, just as Kick-Ass was outdated before it even came out and just as Funny People was a bad idea before Adam Sandler was born.
Still, the movie has been made and there's nothing we can do about it now. We'll have to cope with Justin Timberlake (Justin Timberlake!) telling us "A million dollars isn't cool. You know what is cool? A billion dollars.â€ which serves only to prove that Sorkin is a master of dialogue and that he absolutely deserves your ticket money.
Eisenberg himself explains why he wants the attention of "the clubsâ€:
"They're exclusive. And fun. And they lead to a better life.â€
I don't know what that means, but I want no part of it.