As a social media user since 1995, and someone who trains others in social media, I’d been wanting to see “The Social Network” for months. Last night, I got my chance.
And I was disappointed. It’s a courtroom drama without drama, a jumbled series of flashbacks seen through testimony in two different lawsuits combined for a single hearing: One from Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, upper-class preppie twins who came up with a Harvard social networking concept and brought Mark Zuckerberg in as a partner, only to have him modify the concept into Facebook, leaving them behind—and the other by Eduardo Saverin, his best friend and first investor, for cheating him out of his position and his percentage.
The movie begins with the messy breakup that first inspires Zuckerberg to hack into Harvard’s computers and create the original “Facemash,” illegally placing pictures of most of Harvard’s entire student body on a website, and chronicles how this led to the Facebook 750,000,000 of us use today.
I already knew a lot of this backstory and perhaps that colors my dislike of the movie—because it is in fact a fascinating history. It’s well worth a magazine article, and many have been written. But as film, it left a lot to be desired.
While it was (barely) interesting enough to watch to the end, it lacked drama, focused for the most part on unlikable characters (not just Zuckerberg but the Winklevoss twins, Napster founder Sean Parker, and even Harvard’s then-president, Larry Summers in his one scene). The men are scheming crooks, except Saverin—and pretty much all of the women in the film are portrayed largely as brainless bimbos—except, ironically, Erica Albright, the one who breaks up with Zuckerberg at the start of the movie, who he calls a bitch on his blog, but is one character whose motivations are clear and justified.