We went to see “The Social Network” this afternoon. That’s the new movie about Facebook written by Aaron Sorkin. If you check Facebook more that a dozen times a day you’ll be going too!
Wondering why Saturday afternoon? Just look at the box office numbers from Friday night alone when 2,771 theaters sold $8,000,000 in tickets! We didn’t want to get shut out or be forced to sit in the first row.
The movie traces Mark Zuckerberg: geek, nerd, socially awkward smart smart guy Harvard student who had the idea (sort of) and wrote the code that made “TheFacebook.com,” and then Facebook a social phenomena.
To say Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is portrayed as having little regard for others is an understatement. Yet as much as I wanted to hate him I couldn’t. There’s someone else in the movie to hate. More on Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) in a moment.
As Zuckerberg’s creation begins to take off he becomes more in demand. His application crashes the Harvard computer network at 4:00 AM. He is hit on by beautiful Asian groupies¹ as “The Facebook” usage continues to surge. Finally, Sean Parker the business oriented co-founder of Napster enters his life as an evil angel.
Standby. I’ll get to Parker soon.
The story is told in anecdotal flashback spawned from a series of actual depositions. Whether the anecdotes are true is anyone’s guess. Sorkin says:
This is a nonfiction story about two lawsuits that were brought against Facebook at roughly the same time where the defendant, the plaintiffs and the witnesses all came into the deposition room and swore an oath.
Of course everyone’s deposed testimony differed. There’s a lot of truth to pick from. Recently people who should know have said there’s a lot more fiction than fact. Who’s to say? Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) for Zuckerberg the movie will probably trump history!
What’s not in dispute is Zuckerberg did pay an eight figure settlement to a group led by identical twin Harvard students who said Facebook was really a project they proposed and he agreed to code for them. Also not in dispute is a payment to Zuckerberg’s original partner who was squeezed out under pressure from Sean Parker but walked away with cash and a perpetual website credit line.
Sean Parker is a real life character. Though Sorkin’s script makes him “the Napster guy” I immediately went to Google. I remembered Napster’s genius as Shawn Fanning. We’re both right. Fanning was the coding guy. Parker was the business guy. Fanning was the only one I’d heard of until today.
Sorkin makes Sean Parker the biggest schmuck here. All Zuckerberg wanted was for his website to grow so he would be validated. Traffic was his goal. He says (often) money is not his motivating factor. It was Parker, as Zuckerberg’s Svengali, who convinced him the ultimate target should be cash and convinced him to screw his best friend and co-founding partner!
You see why it’s easy to hate him?
It’s funny considering the subject matter but this was an action picture with a rapid pace. As with anything Aaron Sorkin touches the writing was tight with no dialog wasted. I was envious of the partying college life I saw (a life that sadly didn’t exist… or more likely just didn’t invite me while I was in college) early on, but not at all envious of the dark path Zuckerberg followed to success.
I never saw him happy. Money really can’t buy it, can it?
¹ – The movie makes a point of the fascination Jewish men have with Asian woman. I can’t explain why except to say it’s true. The movie tries to make the case it’s a two-way street. I’ve seen little… OK, no… evidence for that.