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This week:
The Social Network

Filthy says:
"It's probably better than the web site."

I'm not the target audience for The Social Network, a movie about the founding of Facebook.com. That's because I don't understand what the fuck Facebook is. I used to hear about it from the college kids at Southern universities who liked reading my shit because they thought I was as afraid of women as they are. Then the local the high school kids talked about it, how they couldn't wait to post pictures after they'd beaten the crap out of me behind the Conoco. Now, though, every fucking jerk talks about Facebook. Old people, young people, my sisters and even babies. Hell, the insurance agents who leave fliers on our apartment door say to join them on it. What good can a place be where you spend more time with insurance hacks?

So, what the fuck is Facebook? I assume it's not an online sex site, because nobody would go there to join Steve Loeb of State Farm. I don't think it's a dating site, at least not outwardly, because I know married people who put pictures of their kids and pets on it. If it is a dating site, that's fucked up. It can't be about making friends, because that's what Friendster is for. It says so right in the name. And it can't be about sharing your life because nobody outside of about eight people ever has anything interesting to say or happen to them. When I do something interesting, it's almost always published in the Arvada Press police log.

People have more class than to post the mundane shit that happens to them every day. Plus, they have text messaging for those times they just need to share "TGIF!!!" Someone tell me facebook.com is not just another way for boring assholes to tell other boring assholes about their boring lives. People say that porn drives technological innovation, but in reality it's driven by people who love their cats and have a certainty that the rest of the world feels likewise.

Regardless of what Facebook is, The Social Network tells the story of a guy named Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) as he creates it and grows it into the next .com phenomenon, maybe as huge as Pets.com or Netscape, and maybe for half as long. Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as obsessive-compulsive to the point of being borderline Asperger in his inability to relate to other people. He's asocial, arrogant and insecure. Mostly insecure. He must be smart because he got into Harvard, and nobody ever mentions that his family had boatloads of money or influence. He must have had some social skill because the movie opens with him having a girlfriend. After that, no more ladies like him for him. There are plenty of groupies, though. He taps away, writing code for web sites and "blogging", while meeting with people, during depositions and any time he is near a keyboard. When he isn't, other people don't hold his interest.

Eisenberg is always looking for the next big web site. He's not motivated by money, but his need to be accepted, and maybe even because girls, like his ex, will stop hating him. This is pretty believable logic for a dweeb. In the absence of charm or personality, either success or Axe body spray is the only hope they can imagine. The character's idea is that people don't understand him, but if he did something phenomenal, they would. They'd get that he wasn't an asshole, just someone who needed to insult and trample them to achieve greatness.

The Social Network is not really about the creation of the Facebook web site. It is primarily about Eisenberg's duplicity. Most of that is passive. He has a business partner who fronts him money, played by Andrew Garfield. He is less impulsive/compulsive than Eisenberg, and he gets pushed out of Facebook when something newer and shinier attracts Eisenberg's attention. That is Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake. The Social Network presents him as the biggest asshole, a guy brings almost nothing to the business but a few contacts, yet schemes to stake of the value. Timberlake's Parker has no soul and only Garfield's character sees that. Eisenberg is too impressed because he's hearing what he wants to hear. For the most part Zuckerberg is too big a dick to confront people. Instead, he lets sleazier people, like lawyers and Timberlake do the dirty stuff for him.

Themovie proposes that the idea for Facebook was stolen from two Harvard crew-rowing twins who wanted Eisenberg's character to work on developing a similar site for them. There is the accusation by Garfield's character that he was forced out unfairly and without his explicit consent. There are many scenes of depositions as Eisenberg is sued by Garfield and the twins. The movie flashes back and forth between the present court cases and the defining moments in Zuckerberg's life and creation of Facebook. I wouldn't call these scenes filler, but they are background in what is really the intensely personal story of a guy who's a misfit. They are the setting. While they could be deathly boring, director David Fincher handles them slickly. They don't add to our understanding of Zuckerberg, but they move us closer to understanding how a mess gets resolved.

Eisenberg illustrates arrogance, basically calling the lawyers idiots for wasting his time. It's an interesting strategy, and one that probably does little to make them go easy on a guy. But this character isn't interested in getting a break. He's compulsively interested in always having the upper hand and being better than others. What's interesting is that he is never an outright asshole. He may speak rudely and arrogantly. But he's too big a pussy to be the bad guy. He lets other, greedier and more avaricious people make decisions for him. Despite thinking he's so fucking brilliant, he's a gullible naf. Eisenberg plays him perfectly. In fact, it's a fucking great performance. He captures the character through a lot of small and quiet gestures. He makes Zuckerberg very bright, but also a fool.

Surrounding him are other fantastic performances. Garfield is very good as the friend who is probably the most honest and sympathetic character in the movie. Justin Timberlake does a good job as the monstrously self-absorbed Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, who worms his way into Facebook.

The movie isn't a success story. It doesn't matter that Facebook is worth $25 billion. Hell, I'd take that number with as many grains of salt as you took the $166 billion that AOL was once worth. What the move is about is the monster that Mark Zuckerberg feeds, to have a girl who dumped him be his friend. The site could be worth a trillion and if that girl didn't come back, he'd just keep feeding it. In the closing moments, it's clear that he will, too, because for him it's easier to put on some headphones and type some code than it is to be a better person.

Three Fingers for The Social Network. I still ain't putting my face on its book, though.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Greg Russell of the Movie Show Plus

Life as We Know It is "The best romantic comedy of the year!"

Filthy's Reading
Rex Pickett - Sideways

Listening to
Man... or Astroman? - Made from Technetium


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets