The Social Network: My Review

The Social Network Movie Poster

This past weekend my wife and I went to see The Social Network at our local movie threatre in our neighborhood. Being a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Sports Night & Studio 60) I had high hopes for this movie. I've loved all of Sorkin's previous work as someone who appreciates when a movie or tv show doesn't stoop to the lowest common denominator in order to try to get ratings. Sorkin is unapologetic in his use of witty dialog that forces the audience to pay attention to keep up with the film. I knew this wouldn't be an episode of The Jersey Shore (which, by the way, is clear evidence that the human race is doomed to idiocracy).

Now, before I go any further... Have you seen The Social Network yet? If not, go see it now. Do not read any further. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Okay, back now? Good. Let us continue.

As a movie, by itself, disconnected from reality? Fantastic. Amazing. Phenominally good. Aaron Sorkin at his best. I want to watch it again. I will buy this movie immediately when it comes out instead of ripping it from a DVD I got from Netflix in the mail. Oops, did I just type that out loud? Anyway, go see this movie. It is worth it.

Like any Sorkin screenplay, this film's dialogue was endlessly witty. As an asshole-in-training myself, I greatly appreciated the intellectual wit that Sorkin portrayed Zuckerberg's character as possessing throughout the film. In my opinion, the most hilarious, stand-out line of the film was when Zuckerberg's character refers to the two rich douchey Winklevoss twins as the "Winklevii". Yes, quirky geek humor, but I loved it.

I also loved how, throughout the film, the story would cut from the past to the future legal testimony of Zuckerberg and the two parties who were suing him. The back and forth time travel from the past events, as they were happening to the testimony served as a nice way to narrate certain parts of the film in order to tell the history as it was portrayed to happen over a several year period.

Now, all of that being said....the film was grossly inaccurate. I love Aaron Sorkin's work but major parts of the storyline were incorrect and most of the inaccuracies came about because of Sorkin's inherent biases. Rather than try to explain these inaccuracies and Sorkin's biases, I will let Lawrence Lessig someone else whom I greatly admire, do so for me:

Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg

...But as a story about Facebook, it is deeply, deeply flawed. As I watched the film, and considered what it missed, it struck me that there was more than a hint of self-congratulatory contempt in the motives behind how this story was told. Imagine a jester from King George III’s court, charged in 1790 with writing a comedy about the new American Republic. That comedy would show the new Republic through the eyes of the old. It would dress up the story with familiar figures-an aristocracy, or a wannabe aristocracy, with grand estates, but none remotely as grand as in England. The message would be, “Fear not, there’s no reason to go. The new world is silly at best, deeply degenerate, at worst.”

Not every account of a new world suffers like this. Alexis de Tocqueville showed the old world there was more here than there. But Sorkin is no Tocqueville. Indeed, he simply hasn’t a clue to the real secret sauce in the story he is trying to tell. And the ramifications of this misunderstanding go well beyond the multiplex....

I recommend you read the rest of his piece, in its entirety for the full rebuttal to the premise of The Social Network's story. That being said, please do see the movie too. Both the movie, and Lessig's article, are worth seeing and reading.

And finally, if you've gotten this far and still haven't went and seen the movie (despite my earlier advice) here is the trailer: