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:: The Social Network

No doubt the biggest downfall of The Social Network is that people won’t be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Of course, the movie is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by Ben Mezerich however, as is customary in movies, some details embellished, some removed. I’d like to think that Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, isn’t the awful-fashion-sense jerk he’s made out to be in the movie.

The Social Network tells the story of Facebook, starting with the original idea (for all intensive purposes, from the movie, stolen), through the set-up, to the explosion and finally the lawsuits. The Social Network’s plot was inter-woven between the set-up and the depositions of the two lawsuits between Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, and Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins and their business partner, Divya Narendra. (Saverin sued him for essentially back-stabbing him and getting rid of him from the company; the Winklevoss’ and Narendra sued him for stealing their idea).

In 2003, Zuckerberg, a Harvard undergraduate, is depressed and bored. He’s just broken up with his girlfriend. While drinking beer and working on computer coding, just a mere few hours later he makes a website – Facemash. It asks the males of Harvard to compare which female undergraduate out of a choice of two. That leads to trouble from Harvard, alienates him from the female students but more so leads him to the Winklevoss twins and Narendra, who enlist him to work on their exclusive Harvard social networking site, HarvardConnection.

Pretty much as soon as they outline the idea, Zuckerberg runs to Saverin with his own ‘idea’ for a social networking site, successfully manages to get start-up cash from Saverin and starts working on TheFacebook. A few failed advertising meetings, a successful (or not successful, depending on how you look at it) meeting with Napster co-founder Sean Parker and a move to California later, Facebook (the ‘the’ dropped on Parker’s advise) becomes into its own. They drop the ‘Harvard-only’ stance, and allow other Ivy League schools to join, before finally allowing anyone to make a page.

Zuckerberg was a pompous ‘douche’ (as said so eloquently by Saverin) who stole an idea and sold out his only friend. I think the reason this movie will keep people watching is the fact it’s about Facebook and the history is colourful and interesting – certainly not for a likeable protagonist.

The irony of Justin Timberlake playing the co-founder of Napster (the original music file sharing website) left me when Timberlake actually played Sean Parker well. Really well. Also unlikeable but no doubt smart, Parker ended up being a debated value member of Facebook. Another one of the movies charms was presenting Parker in a way that he could be seen as villain or hero depending on how you view him.

No doubt the movie was a little swayed towards Saverin, Zuckerberg’s best friend and co-founder (the business/money side of Facebook) who gave much help to the original novel. Was he hard-done by? Definitely, in my opinion, although one must remember (again, I have no doubt the audience will forget this) that Zuckerberg offered him countless opportunities and he often disappeared. And, the whole fact versus fiction problem.

Overall, the movie was smart, clever and will give the Facebook generation a chance to see how you make a website like that (of course, the coding and all the technical aspects were skimmed over – somehow, a movie full of coding might not be as compelling viewing as this version; filled with frat parties, semi-animal abuse and sex in public toilets). I’d really like to see if Zuckerberg’s business cards really have “I’m CEO, Bitch” on them.