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The Social Network (2010): Portraying a Toxic Social Landscape

Facebook is a cultural milestone in terms of revolutionizing how social relationships are now perceived, leading to a more interconnected world in the process. But no one really knows what the price was for Facebook to attain such levels of social immortality. As the film’s tagline states, “You can’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”

Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is a Harvard student that gets in trouble with the college board after hacking and destabilizing the campus internet access as a prank. He catches the eye of the Winklevoss Twins (both played by Armie Hammer) as they want to set up a social network site that allows for all the prestigious students at the school to connect with each other. However, Zuckerberg decides to take this idea and make it his own with his best friend and roommate Eduardo (played by Andrew Garfield) known as Facebook. When the duo are trying to find investors to expand their reach with Facebook, they find themselves in the crosshairs of Napster founder Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake). With Parker’s involvement, the relationship between Mark and Eduardo deteriorates and the battle for the heart of Facebook begins.

Can I just say, holy shit! Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, AND Andrew Garfield all give career defining performances. I mean, Eisenberg was well established as a comedic talent, but he actually gives a performance closer to the comic book character of Lex Luthor (which he goes on to give a less than stellar work as that titular superman villain). with a cold and calculating demeanor. While it may not make him the most likable it is engrossing nonetheless. Andrew Garfield gives his most relatable performance as Eduardo with his business knowledge and loyalty to his friend. Which makes it more heartbreaking when he is betrayed later. I would also like to mention that this was the film that put Garfield on the map, which led to him being cast as Spider-Man. Of course, what I believe is the best performance of the film is Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker. He portrays him as a smooth talking playboy with undertones of paranoia and narcissism. Acting as the devil on Zuckerberg’s shoulder to create a rift between Eduardo and Mark to satisfy his own personal agenda.

Garfield's talking about his return as Spider-Man

What I believe this film does so well is leaving many story lines and character choices open ended or up to interpretation. As some of the events that happen, such as Parker getting busted with drugs and alcohol at a party with a minor is truly left up to interpretation on who called the police or if it was just a random event. It makes you think about characters and their motivations throughout the film, making you wonder if there were any times characters felt remorse or any emotion for the consequences of those events. It also folds out in flashbacks for most of the movie, playing out during two big lawsuits against Zuckerberg. This really makes us question who we want to root for as one lawsuit between Zuckerberg and Eduardo becomes tumultuous.

The film was written by Aaron Sorkin who has written some of the best tv shows and films out there such as The Newsroom and The West Wing, it was also directed by David Fincher; the very same David Fincher that directed classic psychological thrillers like Se7en and Gone Girl. The two together make for a very cold look at how toxic social hierarchy can be and what it could cost trying to be at the top of it all. It also deals with the theme of isolation, which was mostly told through Zuckerberg’s journey. It is a lonely road on the way to success, but it also stresses the importance of a support group and how quickly that can dissipate when the wrong people are included.

He ain't bringing sexy back

The Social Network portrays how quickly culture can adapt to changing social tools such as Facebook and other social media conglomerates. It does not excuse the hard work that went into creating such a network but more like the toxicity that appears when power disappears from the hands of the entitled and jealous. There are historical discrepancies with how actual events and questionable real life depictions of the characters, so don’t go using this as a tool to explain how the formation of Facebook came to be. But use it as a cautionary tale of what will happen if the wrong people want a piece of what you are creating.

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