Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Movie review: The Social Network

For a change of pace I recently watched The Social Network about Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of Facebook. Because I find entrepreneurship interesting I indulged my curiosity about such a fantastically successful startup company.

The movie opens with Zuckerberg while he is a Harvard student. He is dumped by his girlfriend and in a fit of rage blogs horrible insults about her. Additionally, he uses a friend's algorithm and flings together a website with photos of female students that he hacks out of various local college databases and presents on some kind of compare chics site. Fueled by text messenging, the new site flashes through the college communities and becomes so instantly busy that the Harvard servers running the site crash. Zuckerberg's crass subject matter delights the male students and outrages most campus females for perpetuity. Zuckerberg realizes that he gained so much web traffic so fast because his site let people see pictures of people they knew.

His sudden notoriety attracts the attention of the Winklevoss twins who want to start a Harvard dating website. Zuckerberg agrees to build the site but then strings them along while actually building Facebook for himself. The Winklevoss twins are so stupendously good looking and rich that it was funny watching someone screw them over.

We're all aware of the astounding rise of Facebook and Zuckerberg's success and attendant legal battles with the Winklevoss twins and his friend Eduardo Saverin who was a co-founder of Facebook but was pushed out when Zuckerberg found more substantial investors.

The Social Network is a superbly composed stimulating movie. Every scene is well acted, nuanced, coherent, and pulsing with the frenetic energy of a mobile internet culture. The story is full of youthful energy and daring, and it is exciting to watch. Interestingly Mark Zuckerberg is not a very appealing human being, but this movie remained riveting all the same. His ambition and intellect were admirable, but his impatience with the rest of humanity, which he finds rather tedious, ironically portrayed him as socially inept.

The movie ends by mentioning that Mark Zuckerberg is currently the youngest billionaire. Despite that impressive credential, The Social Network presented him as, to use technical female jargon, undatable.