Cardinal Reviews: For the Digital Age, ‘The Social Network’ Serves as a Social Commentary

By on March 7, 2011

By Anna Meany

 In the wake of the Oscars, “The Social Network” received much acclaim, as well as criticism. The film won in the categories of Writing (adapted screenplay), Music (original score) and Film Editing. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Cinematography, Directing, and Sound Mixing.

“The Social Network” tells the story of young Mark Zuckerberg – who went on to become Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year – and his colleagues, Eduardo Saverin and Sean Parker. The film recaps the story of the invention of Facebook, while showing clips of the more recent lawsuits against Zuckerberg.

More importantly, the film focuses on the relationships between Zuckerberg and everyone involved with Facebook. His friends and colleagues play instrumental roles in the widespread popularity of Facebook.

Jesse Eisenberg, who is known from films such as Zombieland, takes on the role of Zuckerberg. Breaking from his pop star status, Justin Timberlake is cast as Parker, the creator of Napster who captures Zuckerberg’s attention and admiration during the film. Saverin is played by Andrew Garfield, who suffers for Zuckerberg’s approval of his Facebook work throughout the film, resulting in the end of their friendship and a nasty lawsuit.

Viewers will come away from the film questioning how exactly they should judge Zuckerberg. It’s obvious that he is incredibly smart. His creation of the complex website shows his intelligence. But there is a large shadow of betrayal and shame in the world of Facebook.

It’s hard to criticize Zuckerberg, because he’s incredibly likeable. I literally laughed out loud when listening to him smart off to his opponents. He is presented as such a gutsy rebel. But wouldn’t you have to be to create the most popular social networking site? I couldn’t help but sympathize with Zuckerberg throughout the film. I enjoyed seeing him humiliate Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who attempt to prove that he stole their idea of Facebook. This brings up an interesting point. One of Zuckerberg’s most distinguishing personality traits is his general distaste for society, largely because he was socially unaccepted. However, he shows immense confidence in his creation of Facebook.

“The Social Network” presents an unfortunate portrayal of the real Zuckerberg. Most of the negative criticism concerned the lack of any communication between Zuckerberg and the director of the film. It’s been called fiction and “very Hollywood” by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. The film was allegedly exaggerated with sex, drinking and drama. Unrealistically, two attractive women latch onto computer nerds Zuckerberg and Saverin at a Bill Gates presentation.

After overlooking its fabricated plotline, I found that the core purpose of the movie was to represent the struggles of one man on the brink of success. It comments on the human ability to betray friends for personal gain. Most obviously, it’s a social commentary on our basic need to communicate and form relationships. More importantly, “The Social Network” puts our own addictive culture on display and shows how technological advancements can be both beneficial and detrimental to our society.

About Michael Kennedy

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