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Customer Review

19 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly ironic, October 5, 2010
This review is from: The Social Network (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
The central premise of THE SOCIAL NETWORK is that Facebook emerged not from an attempt by a college kid to connect with his friends, as the origin myth has it, but from a misogynist online prank. The title speaks to the profound irony underlying this almost accidental invention: The man who created the world's largest and most successful social network is devoid of social intelligence.

This image of the world's youngest billionaire is far from pretty. But it's not just Mark Zuckerberg (well acted by Jesse Eisenberg) that Social Network lampoons. Harvard University comes across as a hornet's nest of elitism, greed, and misogyny. It's hard to sympathize with anyone here, except perhaps Eduardo Saverin, presented as Zuckerberg's only friend, whom he betrays.

Saverin's sympathetic portrayal owes to the fact that he was the only person connected with Facebook to consult with Ben Mezrich, author of the 2009 book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal from which the film is adapted.

The central plot device is flash-forwards to Zuckerberg's testimony at a legal deposition. He is being sued by both Saverin and Harvard twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who claim he stole their creative idea. (Zuckerberg settled both lawsuits out of court; Saverin now owns 5 percent of the privately held company, while the Winklevosses got $65 million.)

Despite the obvious distortion of the deposition scenes (in real life, everyone involved in a lawsuit does not sit around a big table inserting commentary while a witness is being deposed), the device works not only to anchor the flashbacks but also to remind the viewer of the film's essential accuracy.

But, ironically, this film is far from accurate. Although many of the bizarre details are factual, several of the central elements are entirely fictional. Zuckerberg did not, for example, get dumped by a girlfriend. He now lives with the same woman he was dating before he launched Facebook. (If you are interested in a complete rundown of what's fact and what's fantasy, check out a column at The Daily Beast by veteran journalist David Kirkpatrick, author of the nonfiction book The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World. Also, the New Yorker's Jose Antonio Vargas recently profiled Zuckerberg in an article, "The Face of Facebook.")

This shameless blending of fact and fiction that is so characteristic of Hollywood makes me uneasy. Are we watching a true story, or the bitter memories of a sore loser?

Nonetheless, with its outstanding direction (by David Fincher), compelling script, and excellent acting, The Social Network is well worth seeing. And with the Facebook network now boasting more than 500 million active users worldwide, it's certainly interesting to ponder its socially disconnecting effect, a central irony of the digital age.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 5, 2010 5:42:01 PM PDT
Thought-provoking review! Now I'll definitely go see the movie.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2010 8:17:05 PM PDT
Thanks, Ferrebee!

Posted on Oct 8, 2010 7:42:34 PM PDT
Muriel Hykes says:
I won't mind if you tell me what the misogynistic prank was!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2010 6:46:09 AM PDT
Hi Muriel,
Well, it happens early in the movie, so it's probably not a "spoiler" if I tell you. But, for other readers, please don't read this comment if you are worried about spoilers. In the movie, Zuckerberg is angry at a girlfriend for breaking up with him. So, he steals the online photos of women from all of the Harvard houses and creates "Facemash," in which men rank the women on their looks. He's trying to make himself feel better by denigrating women as a group. I understand that in real life, campus women's groups were in an uproar over this. However, a reader of my blog who has looked into it has since told me that, whereas Facemash was definitely real, the incident with the girlfriend may not have been. If I had known that when I wrote the review, I might have given it only three stars. It is unnecessary, and confusing to viewers, when filmmakers claim to be "dramatizing" a true story but then insert prominent elements of fiction. I hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2010 11:47:33 AM PDT
Luna says:
Thank you for your incredibly informative review -- eye-opening is an understatement. But I need to add that indeed, this comment is an extraordinary piece of information and warrants inclusion in your review.
Certainly, the specifics of the "spoiler" -- I don't think it's a spoiler, but that would be your call -- could be excluded from your update, but it's quite significant that a movie purportedly dedicated to exposing the truth behind the fiction of this social networking phenomenom apparently could use some exposure of its own. (Your second to last sentence here says it perfectly.)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 7:06:53 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2010 7:07:48 AM PDT
With your urging -- and a similar comment by a reader of my blog review -- I decided to research further. As a result I have modified my review to discuss the issue of fictionalization. I've also inserted a couple of sources you can go to for more information on that. And, I've downgraded my rating from 4 stars to 3 stars. So, thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 5:42:18 PM PDT
Luna says:
You're welcome. But honestly, it was your comment that compelled me to write--I think I had a sort of visceral reaction to the import of the irony--the additional irony, I should say. And asserting that you might have given three instead of four stars, had you known originally, was proof positive of the significance of the issue. I'm just so glad you made the revision to your review--it's even more enlightening than before.
Christine (aka Luna)

You might be interested to know that I have added to my cart two new books based on your recommendations: Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars and Blood Strangers: A Memoir. Thank you.

Posted on Oct 16, 2010 6:33:55 PM PDT
Noelle Eiram says:
Thanks for this honest review. Also well written. Even though I was dazzled by the film and gave it many stars, I always appreciate people who actually care about the truth. (I took it as fiction, so I wasn't offended in the way I would have been if it were a documentary or non-fiction book.)

Posted on Jan 9, 2011 12:28:43 AM PST
B. Franklin says:
It's a movie and not a documentary, but the betrayal was REAL.

Posted on Jan 14, 2011 6:04:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2011 6:05:34 AM PST
Jonny Lee says:
You are spot-on, Karen! I agree with your review from word one to the end. Three stars only. It's good but not as big a deal as most people would have you believe. I see it winning awards, but more because of its political and societal intrigue than its being a good, all-around movie. It's a shame to know that Facebook originated from a prank and a theft. I say Zuckerman doesn't deserve a single penny he's got.
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