dir: David Fincher
It’s a fascinating story, and a terrific film, despite being about something so inherently banal. It’s not even really an origin story, along the lines of a biographical tale like the ones regarding the Manhattan Project, or the moon landing, or, you know, something important that was invented or achieved. It’s more concerned with (fictionally) illuminating the thinking of one of the main people involved in the creation of this online behemoth known as Facebook.
Written with an ear towards crackling dialogue, Aaron Sorkin, known for penning the scripts to such immediately familiar fare such as A Few Good Men and many an episode of The West Wing, has crafted a screenplay that tells us less about what was involved in programming up from scratch this most pervasive of online networks, and more about how someone with a genius level IQ, a resentment towards the privileged, no knowledge of how to treat people as people, and a complete inability to forgive perceived slights conjured up something adopted universally across the tubes of the internets that made him a billionaire, all before finishing college.
He didn’t just become rich. To borrow from a Chris Rock routine, there’s being rich, and then there’s wealth. Oprah is rich, Bill Gates is wealthy. Bill Gates would kill himself if he woke up with Oprah’s money.
Well, now Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) would kill himself if he woke up with Bill Gate’s money. And for what? Facebook? An online vanity site where you become inundated with vital info like what people had for breakfast, what their cats are up to, what tv cooking or renovation programs they like watching, or how much time they spent on Mafia Wars or Farmville or something equally life-affirming over the course of any given day? A place where you can reconnect with people you haven’t heard from or thought about in decades, and, once you find and friend them, lose interest in almost immediately?
It’s easy to be scathing, and fun too, but in the interests of disclosure, it would be remiss of me not to admit that I, too, am a Facebook user. By ‘user’ I mean I log in about once a week, perhaps update something to do with a movie I’ve seen (as when I wrote a quick review of The Social Network, on Facebook, no less, where the meta-irony didn’t escape me), perhaps update what book I’ve just finished and what I’m reading, and that’s about it. I’ll check out a few friends’ updates, and that’s the sum and total.
To my knowledge, I’ve never clicked on an ad whilst logged in, I’ve never used my credit card to purchase anything for any of the online games or little virtual knickknacks as gifts that are on offer, so my known contribution to the company’s coffers is nil. I would suspect, though I’ve got little apart from general human apathy to base this on, that many if not most of Facebook’s users are in the same boat.
So why are these people billionaires again?