(A little more, since its 100% score at Rotten Tomatoes is making my head pop off. And since I saw it on September 8th, I don’t think this counts as “backlash”.)
Anyway. The Social Network opens in a busy bar and ends with a laptop in an empty conference room. This is meant to say something about Our Human Need To Connect. Perhaps it does. Perhaps I do not give a shit.
In the bar, Our Antihero Mark Zuckerberg is having drinks with a ladyfriend. In the course of this, he insults her, her college (she doesn’t have to study, he knows, because she goes to BU. Oh, fuck off), and more things I’ve blocked out due to sheer annoyance. She tells him that in the future, he’ll think girls don’t like him because he’s a geek. It’s not true. They won’t like him because he’s an asshole. She gets up and walks out, which on one hand is great for her, but on the other hand, she is the most interesting character in the film, so it’s sad to see her go.
(By the way? She’s fictional. This story has so few ladies — none whose names you remember — that Sorkin had to flat-out invent her. Nice.)
It’s true, though. Mark’s an asshole. As is every other person in this movie. He’s an asshole, the twin Winklevosses are assholes, Sean Parker is an asshole (and since he’s played by Justin Timberlake, there was never any doubt on this front), and even though within the film you like Eduardo, he is probably an asshole too. For example, he dates an insane girl solely because she’s hot, and then we’re meant to feel sorry for him when she is crazy. (Her one real scene is when she admittedly overreacts to a gift that shows he knows her exactly NOT AT ALL, and I gotta say, she has a disproportionate amount of my sympathy there.) Whatever, man.
But back to the bar. After Interesting Girl tells truth to power and leaves, Mark decides to take revenge on her (through LiveJournal posts. Oh snap). And when this turns out to not be enough to mend his manpain he takes further revenge by humiliating the entire female population of Harvard.
Classy, classy guy.
And so it goes from there. Here’s the thing. It’s well-done, obviously. It’s beautifully shot. Sorkin’s script is a delight, and Eisenberg is, to the surprise of no one who pays attention to anything, a natural at Sorkinese. The closing credits needle drop is perfect. It’s the first film I can remember that includes a bar scene where people have realistic trouble hearing each other. Etc.
But I just don’t care. I can’t get excited about a rich white guy full of angst about his inability to get into a richer white guy club. Oh, so they only let you in the bike room? YOU ARE AT HARVARD. Get a grip. It’s just a club. It’s just a website. It is not deserving of the gravitas it’s being given.
I’m a huge fan of Sorkin. But he’s at his best when he’s writing about things that matter. With Sports Night, the light subject matter was okay, because it was a sitcom. There was humor to balance the workplace obsession. The West Wing obviously was deserving of the weight. You can’t get a much more serious workplace than the White House, at least on network television. But he lost me with Studio 60, characters endlessly agonizing over a sketch comedy show, with a side of hamfisted social commentary*.
And now, it’s Facebook that gets the oh so serious treatment. But it doesn’t matter that much, at least to me. There was social networking before Facebook. There’ll be social networking after. Really, the only difference is that Facebook is the first one my mom joined, and that is not a recommendation. It means they get more money. I don’t care.
* Here’s a clue, sir. If you expect me to take you seriously you cannot go on and on about gay rights & how there are so many queer folks in Hollywood, but not actually have any gay characters on your damn show.