The Social Network: The Movie Behind the Brand

Posted by Lady Mel On Tuesday, October 5, 2010 1 comments

This is more than just a movie review. This is a critical social analysis of my generation. Generation Y. By now, almost everyone you know uses Facebook. I do. You do. Probably your mom or stalker ex-boyfriend will by the time you finish reading this post. But that's not the point. The point is that the "The Social Network" provides not only a pretty accurate account of the way my generation sees the world, but the way in which the world will see us once we take ownership of it. (Disclaimer: When I analyzed this film, I talked about the actors and their fictional characters, not the actual people the film was roughly based on.)

As I  was watching this movie with my friend Radale Sunday night, I made a mental note on certain themes that played throughout the film and profoundly aroused my curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat, I guess. 

1. This is Our Time. When I heard Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) said that line to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Einserberg) at a Silicon Valley nightclub, I knew it would speak volumes. The founding of Facebook pivoted a cornerstone in the social media revolution; the urgency to create change and rattle the status quo. Facebook embodies the Generation Y culture, and the future of other young innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckenburg and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Zuckerberg had a clever idea, the idea to create an online social space that connected people with members of their own tribes (as Seth Godin would digest). And as I saw Facebook's transition in the film as a brand from the dorm rooms of the prestigious Harvard University to Silicon Valley, the innovative hub for tech start-ups, I understood that this social revolution was bigger than anything I could have imagined of. 

2. The Tortured Creative Genius or the Jerk. I believed Zuckerberg represented two dichotomous identities: the tortured victim and the jerk. I do not know if the real Mark Zuckerberg is this way as in person, but the fictional Zuckerberg clearly was a jerk. From the moment I tried to decipher the opening dialogue between Zuckerberg and his ex-girlfriend Erica Albright, I knew that he was a hard person "socially" to deal with. But was he also a tortured soul because he was a nerd and did not quite fit into the Harvard social scene? Did Zuckerberg create Facebook to fit in with his peers or achieve fame, power, or greed? We will never know.

But this film drew more questions about Facebook and Zuckerberg than answers in my opinion. What bothered me the most was that why was a computer science genius somewhat "antisocial", when his Internet empire is all about interconnectivity and social networking? 

My answer: Radale and I concluded that Zuckerberg was not an efficient communicator at all. In the movie, he manipulated Saverine, probably the only friend he even had, from knowing about the Winklevoss lawsuit at first and then the Facebook contracts. He humiliated Albright by blogging about her on his "" experiment. Does anyone found it ironic that Zuckerberg did this to Albright long before cyber bullying and the use of Facebook as a cyber bulling tool became major national investments? What a coincidence.

His behavior led me to more questions. Even if Eduardo was not an effective business manager and a Facebook co-founder, why did Zuckerberg tell him directly about this idea called Facebook and why did not he tell Saverine that he was inefficient before the final confrontation in the movie where Eduardo confronted Sean Parker and Zuckerberg about his lose of Facebook stock? Communication is a must to becoming a leader of the future and for Zuckerberg to be portrayed in this light is quite paradoxical to the current times.  Honesty should be a major priority when dealing with starting a business with your friends because I know that sometimes mixing friendship with business causes problems down the road. So in other words, creating a marketing brand requires transparency and communication.

3. Where are the women?  I am not surprised by the the limited role(s) for women in this film. To Mr. David Fincher, why groupies? For instance, if you say to someone that you went to Harvard, people will perceive you as extremely smart and privileged, regardless of background. If Harvard women are smart and I bet many are, why did Fincher portrayed these women as the typical gender norm: young, sexually curious women with the sore purpose of attending exclusive Harvard parties to get laid. Who remembers the strip poker and the Katy Perry's I Kiss a Harvard Girl esque scenes at the beginning of the film? Almost every female in the movie except Albright and Delpy (Rashida Jones) were half-naked, child-like, and sought male attention and the "male gaze" from Zuckerberg, Saverin, Parker, and other male actors in the film. 

Albright was the only female in the film that eloquently challenged Zuckerberg's ego the most (and in some respects his social equal), yet Zuckerberg humiliated her for those opinions online for emasculating him at the pub. Hollywood [or society]  hates it when a powerful female character speaks her mind, but then has to be ridiculed for it. I would have loved to have seen intelligent Harvard women in conversations with Zuckerberg, Parker, and Saverin about Facebook, the state of the digitalization of information and other Millennium (Generation Y) issues. But no! I had to watch a female Facebook intern snorted cocaine off of another female Facebook intern's bare chest instead! 

When will Hollywood ever learn that female actors should be not used or defined as background noise for a male-centric film? Young women these days are using Facebook in great numbers and to have women misrepresented in this film, in the social entrepreneurial scene, in American college culture, and in the greater society is truly troubling given that there are fewer women running Fortune 500 companies, majoring in math and the sciences, and starting their own businesses. I think the lack of good female roles in this film was one of its major flaws. 

Overall, it was a good movie to watch and I encourage those who haven't seen the film yet to see it with their own set of eyes. Remember, these are my opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own point of view. I think decades down the line, we will have sociologists, economists, and researchers analyse this film to reflect on the generational impacts of Generation Y in the first decades of the 21st century. Only problem is that I beat them to it! 

What are your thoughts about this movie? Zuckerberg? Facebook? The Lawsuits? Do you agree or disagree with the questions and points I brought up in this discussion?


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