Sunday, October 3, 2010
As some may know, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook during his sophmore year at Harvard University with the help of his best friend Eduardo Saverin (you can look them up on facebook.com). The movie presents Zuckerberg as being a loner with few friends who wants desperately to be a part of the Pheonix Club on campus. When the popular crew team twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, approach Zuckerberg about making a social connection website for Harvard students, Zuckerberg jumps at the opportunity. Zuckerberg enlists the financial help of Saverin and begins to build thefacebook based on the Winklevoss' idea. Thefacebook becomes an instant success and Zuckerberg is rocketed into stardom. Soon he is entertaining the likes of Sean Paker, Napster founder, and before long is the target of multiple lawsuits.
Of course we all know the success of Facebook and the great drama that surrounds its founders. Still, I was never fully aware of its development and the possible corruption in its founding. The movie portrays Zuckerberg as emotion-less and obsessed with being noticed by the "in" crowd even if it means sacrificing his only friends. The film bounces between his legal battles and the history of Facebook which took a bit of getting used to but I think that it worked. The acting is excellent and though Zuckerberg doesn't come off as being such a great guy, the movie does solicit some sympathy for him.
I think that this is an important movie not just because the script is tight, the acting is excellent, and the subject matter is timely, but also because the influence that Facebook (and Zuckerberg) have had on society is tremendous. Six years ago, no one would ever have thought that the word "friend" could be turned into a noun or that one could experience someone else's party or vacation by sitting on their own couch hundreds of miles away. Now someone can "friend" another person or be "defriended" and pictures can be uploaded to facebook so that people you're not even friends with can comment on pictures of your birthday. It's a kind of revolution that we still don't fully understand and possibly won't for many years. Still, this film reminds us that Facebook is just another website and therefore just another business laden with growing pains and legal troubles. While it did, for a second, make me want to deactivate my facebook (my sentiments were shared by my friend who went to see the film with me) I don't think that's the point of the film. Its message is not anti-facebook but merely proves that it is not God's gift to man. Instead, it was created as a means to distract Zuckerberg from his breakup with his girlfriend and which in turn has helped to distract over 150 million from around the world.
The story follows a high school student named Olive who isn't the most popular girl in school but isn't really looking to be the talk of the school. When the weekend comes, her best friend invites her to go camping but Olive just wants to spend the weekend at home. Olive decides to lie to her friend and tells her that she has a date that weekend. At school on Monday, Olive's best friend pesters Olive about her imaginary date until Olive says that they had sex. Word gets around school and suddenly Olive is the talk of the high school. One of Olive's friends hears about the rumor which Olive confesses is not true. However, her friend does not care for he is being bullied about being gay and wants to prove to the school that he's not. So he and Olive attend a popular party where they secure and room and pretend to have sex so that entire party can hear. The next day at school the rumors about the boy's sexuality are cast aside while Olive becomes the main attraction. Olive continues to have fake sex with numerous boys in school so that it will help their reputation. Yet, the backlash causes Olive to become ostracized as she finds that though she believes she is helping these boys, she is not being true to herself.
First let me get out of the way my complaints with the film, which are few:
1. the plot is a bit contrived
2. the acting is not exceptional
3. the connection between the students reading The Scarlett Letter and Olive's being ostracized (to the point of wearing a scarlet A) is about a subtle as an anvil falling on one's head
But many tween movies are criticized for the same problems in script and acting, so I don't want to elaborate more on it here. Still, the good in this film completely outweighs the bad. These are a few of the things that I think separate this film from other asinine dopey chick flix:
1. this is NOT (thank god) a coming of age tale
2. there is little romance and some good comedy
3. it is not self righteous in its message
I think that the message of this film is very good and not something that you see everyday. Most teen films are about falling in love with the person you thought you hated (when does that ever really happen?) or being led astray by the glitter and false happiness of popularity. However, this movie is about how doing something that seems altruistic can actually come back to hurt you and others. It's about helping others while never losing your sense of self. And who doesn't like a couple chuckles while learning a solid life lesson? I certainly do!