The Social Network is a movie that chronicled the founding of the Internet social networking site, Facebook. It stared Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook and his friend (and financial benefactor/co-creator) Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield.
Jesse Eisenberg played Zuckerberg as a socially awkward loner, who did not always seem to know when he had done wrong. Zuckerberg in the movie is ruthless when it comes to creating and maintaining Facebook, but there is a certain innocence in his motivations when he backstabs his friend Saverin in the back, or steals social networking ideas from Harvard twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Einsenberg invoked sympathy from me for his portrayal of the soon to be billionaire. It seemed like Zuckerberg got caught up in the moment, dazzled by the flash of his position and the ideas of Napster co-founder Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), when he betrayed Saverin. He might have seemed calm and detached when Saverin found out he had lost his shares in Facebook, but he also saw it as a business transaction that went wrong – and Saverin had screwed up by not reading the fine print when he signed the legal documents regarding his ownership over his Facebook shares.
Now, I’m not saying I felt any great sympathy for Zuckerberg when his friend sued him (he made a bad call when he let Saverin’s shares be sold), or the twins, but Zuckerberg’s personality in the movie made me think of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. How horrible Sheldon is too his friends, but how he doesn’t know how to think any differently. Sheldon and Zuckerberg are socially awkward nerds who think and react differently – they think in the way of numbers and science. Zuckerberg in the movie didn’t seem to want to destroy Saverin or rob the Winklevoss’s for their idea; Saverin messed up on his own terms (which than seemingly Parker and other shareholders took advantage of), and although the Winklevoss twins created an idea for a website like Facebook, they never claimed the idea outright. Zuckerberg merely took some of their ideas for ConnectU and made them better, integrating their ideas with his previous project FaceMash. People made mistakes that benefited Zuckerberg and Facebook. I never thought that in the movie Zuckerberg was a true evil to end all evils.
It is also good to realise that the screenplay for the movie based its facts on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich; which was written with input from Saverin, which would lead the book/movie to be more biased by his views of how events unfolded.
After reading the article “Zuckerberg, Hearst and Hollywood: PR Lessons Learned From the Past” by Tiffany Gallicano, my opinion on real!Zuckerberg and movie!Zuckerberg hasn’t changed much.
When interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show, he said that the movie is “fun” and “the last six years have been a lot of coding and focus and hard work, but maybe it would be fun to remember it as partying and all this crazy drama.” It is a layback response and in the interview with Oprah he seemed good natured and relaxed, not like awkward movie!Zuckerberg (of course the man is rich enough to buy media relation PR lessons… or a firm). However, later on when he donated $100 million to his new foundation, the Newark school system (on the same say the movie came out), the action seemed a little shady.
The timing for his donation seemed too perfect and made him seem like a little boy billionaire with too much money who wants to buy friends (allusion to movie!Zuckerberg perhaps?). But, in the end, the donation might have just been badly timed, he could just have been looking for loving approval from fans, or he could be a rich guy doing something stupid that seemed great at the time. In the end, only Zuckerberg, some possibly fired PR people, and his bags and bags of money, know the truth behind the donation. Either way, I don’t think Facebook has been feeling Zuckerberg’s faux pas.
With The Social Network getting lots of attention by media and movie goers, I believe that The Social Network has done more to help Facebook’s popularity than hinder it. The Social Network is a good movie romp that entertained me and made me want to know more about the creators of Facebook. After I saw the movie, I went onto the Internet and tried to separate the truth from fiction in the movie myself. The Social Network isn’t going to stop me from using Facebook and as my friends list hasn’t dwindled down to two people, I’m guessing the movie hasn’t changed their opinion either.