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The Social Network

The Social Network

by Kavish Chetty / 05.11.2010

Cinema is a vampire: it gulps us up with its power to glamour. By murky hypnosis it leads us into its parallel reality. This is my immodest explanation as to why The Social Network has managed to transmute, what is essentially a phalanx of paleface crater-cheeked geeks programming all night, into something charming, magnetic and even thrilling. Achingly, I guarantee you’ll limp out of the theatre with a part of your self-worth feeling under-accomplished and mediocre.

Some variation on the following phrase has a strong circulatory run throughout most high-schools: “Be nice to the nerds, because one day you’ll end up working for them.” At essence, it’s a silly maxim designed to disrupt playground power-dynamics, but it’s not without merit. Mark Zuckerberg is by the account of this movie one such nerd, and now one such boss (we all work for him; everyone of us Facebook narcissists). He’s a jittery, tense, oblique boy who twitches and spasms into overdrive when in the grip of his ideas. But for all his oily anti-social behaviour, he’s managed to programme his way into one of the twenty-first century’s most addictive phenomena, and netted an, oh, chaste 6.9 billion dollars along the way.

The allure of Facebook has already been exhausted in our media. In quick strokes, that it animates the pseudo-celebrity territory inside us all; that it invites us to validate the cinema of our own private lives by scrawling it all over public fora (the ‘wall’). Zuckerberg’s exploitation of this narcissist decade is exquisitely chronicled by Fincher (Fight Club, Seven). It tracks the development of ‘the Facebook’, from an exclusive Harvard gimmick, to an expansive, transcontinental network. The tale of Facebook isn’t banal (or the camera-eye certainly lends it an urgent vitality) – Zuckerberg sold out his best friend and co-founder, came under legal reprisal from the Harvard scholars who originally commissioned the project, and developed a near-obsession with the Napster-hipster founder who swayed onboard the project and suggested, ‘drop the definite article’, turning ‘the Facebook’ into simply, attractively, ‘Facebook’.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg and he’s thoroughly unlikeable. He’s kind of a Michael Cera +, if you like. He only knows how to play one character, and it’s geekish, awkward, punch-worthy. He stars alongside Justin Timberlake (Shawn Fanning) and Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin). The most surprising thing about this film is the direction: it’s handled like a genre-thriller (with a haunting-hypnotic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, reminiscent of Ghosts I-IV), with a non-chronological narrative that slowly connects the dots on a plot of backstabs, avarice, revenge, competition, obsession. The feat, the accomplishment, is that at heart, it’s still the story of programmers and social-delinquents clicking at keyboards into the small hours. But the sense that they belong to something powerful and modern; something galvanic and iconic, is so thickly palpable. Especially impressive is the scene of an English rowing gala – the colours, depth, movement and beauty of which matches any still photograph.

The Social Network is vital: entertaining, relevant and exciting. It manages to drift away from reality at exactly the right interstices, creating a fully engaging biopic.

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RESPONSES (21)
  1. plectrum gimp says:

    “Cinema is a vampire” oooo, using a noun to put emphasis on your sentence structure. Lush. Kavish, out with it? Tell us about your vampire fetish, it will be much more of an indulging read then this article that has very little soul. Unrestrained gratification, that’s what we want from you mr.

    “what is essentially a phalanx of paleface crater-cheeked geeks programming all night”, let me say it again, “paleface crater-cheeked geeks” sjoe, dis nogals n mondvol. Did your mother say, “Kavish, look at these paleface crater-cheeks”, when she gave your little cheeks a pinch when handing over your lunch money for school. Or did she pack you lunch. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wasn’t it. You must have hid it away skillfully from the little fatty/bully in class. Probably in the pencil compartment of your purple-pink spacecase…what stickers did you have on your spacecase? My little ponies, come on now…be honest…or was it ACDC stickers, hmmmm…maybe the Eels…you sound like someone that listens to the eels…great music for movie soundtracks init?

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  2. Lizzy says:

    @plectrum gimp – what a random personal attack, obviously you needed an outlet today, shame…
    Kavish, I liked the review, and found it gave me insight and some motivation to see the movie, which I originally suspected would be fairly bland.

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  3. plectrum gimp says:

    the only outlet I need is the toilet…thank you for being concerned, dis asof jy geweet het, dat ek een grootte moet verwyder van my binne-stelsel.

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  4. Andy says:

    Plectrum Gimp – you really need to get a life. Or are you so affronted by Kavish’s Wild Eyes review that you’re going to follow him around and diss him personally in all his articles, forever. That’s grown up.

    I wish I had that kind of time… and I really hope you start feeling better soon. But I doubt it, personal internet grudge vendettas invariably make you small and weak.

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  5. plectrum gimp says:

    @ Andy
    “I wish I had that kind of time…” you must have had some time to respond to my random ramblings, it was lenghty. And yes, it is as Random as his Wild Eyes post. I have to admit, you quite right, what a waste of time, i wish i had the dedication and time to comment on all his insightful reviews and posts, its a bit difficult when you have to opperate through a 56k modem, and my mother keeps on asking me if i want Peanut Butter sandwiches, I aspecially moved my bed into the basement to get some privacy, Jeezzz, its so irritating…gosh

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  6. plectrum gimp says:

    mahala bitches

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  7. plectrum gimp says:

    hey i didnt say that! haha…my pseudo idenity grows, jesus, do you also live in your mothers basement…we should hook up and play world of warcraft, plactrum gimp number two..

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  8. muerte says:

    “What the earth’s population will do with these revolutionary tools in the coming period remains the more interesting story.”

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/oct2010/soci-o15.shtml

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  9. Andy says:

    at least you got a sense of humour plectrum… nice link muerte

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  10. aloha AI says:

    @ plectrum gimp – the word you’re after is than, not then –

    “it will be much more of an indulging read then this article”

    – learn basic spelling before you criticise Mr Chetty, you sad little twat.

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  11. random says:

    great review/read as always Mr Chetty.
    You can also take pride in making bottom feeding, basement dwellers cum in their undies… this is a mark of greatness (unfortunately).

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  12. joburg tom says:

    okay. i feel i need to interject here about one thing:

    IT IS A MOVIE ABOUT FACEBOOK. isn’t that slightly insideous? it’s a gimick that has an audience of 500 million facebook useres, just becauese it is faecbook. it might be releveant for today, but in a way isn’t it too early for such a Hollywood movie to be made? it’s only been 6 years, surely a story like this, about Zuckerberg, who is only 26 as i write this, idolises him a little too soon? on the other hand, surely a story like this, about Zuckerberg, who is only 26 as i write this, drags his name thorugh the mud a little too soon? does he deserve to be treated like this “in a murky mixture of fact and imagination for the general entertainment of the movie-viewing public?” (Andrew Clark, The Guardian).

    The story shown in this this movie is an epic dramatisation of actual events, some the main events may be true, but how they went down didn’t happen quite so excitingly, to make a perfect plot for a hollywood movie. where is the disclaimer? nothing. 500 million facebook users will go watch this movie because, it’s cool. learn how the facebook was created, but also learn some untrue facts. that is insideous. and no one seems to want to point this out. i read the this article in hope, and all i saw was a superficiallity worthy enough for facebook.

    Another thing, it’s Trent Reznor.

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  13. Raiven says:

    Yeah, it’s Trent Reznor.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    I think Trent Reznick is the guy from the Machinist, whose name was actualyl a tribute to Trent Reznor.

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  15. Andy says:

    eish that’s actually my bad… there i was wondering who the hell Trent Reznick was?

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  16. plactrum gimp says:

    @aloha AI

    i think, I also used a couple of was’s instead of were’s.
    “…Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wasn’t it.” i think because sandwiches is/are a plural, i should be using weren’t…im not to sure…
    also, please explain why i should use than, and not then…is it because, than is used in comparative statements. but hey, in my defence, i did get the not part right…because if you combine was and not….you can write wasn’t…and the indulging part was quite clever…because i could have said…more of a smashing read…but instead…i only used one word…see what i did there…pretty impressive

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  17. fact check says:

    Did you watch the movie? Sean Fanning? Seriously do some research…
    Normal mahala fare, that is not a compliment.

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  18. Ian says:

    Gosh I wish comments on Mahala would try to focus more on the article and not just on other peoples comments. That said, I need to follow up on some points made by joburg tom.

    I also noted that the writer doesn’t make it clear that a good percentage of the movie is fictionalised, making me suspect that he didn’t realise that himself. Hopefully other people like myself will have done a bit more research about the movie before being suckered into believing this Hollywood version of the events. The filmmakers are rightfully unapologetic about this and have a right to be, they are creating entertainment and using artistic license. Zuckerberg has come to terms with this and so should everyone else.

    When I first saw the movie, it also seemed quite gimmicky a concept to me, but upon watching it I was reminded how worthy the subject matter is of a movie. It is still the true story of a kid, a KID (sure he was 20 or whatever, but still) who forever changed the entire world of communication and became the worlds youngest billionaire, not without stepping on a few toes in the process. That story definitely worth telling whether it is now or in 10 years time.

    Also, I am sure like me, many fans will also see the film due to it being directed by the super talented Fincher and not simply because it’s about Facebook. I was also blown away by the cinematic mastery of that rowing gala scene, the man is a true auteur!

    Lastly @ fact check, I also remember Napster as being Sean Fanning until the movie came along. Don’t know when, how why, it got changed to Parker.

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  19. Josh says:

    this movie was really good….. i skeem!

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  20. Brian says:

    @plactrum gimp: Fuck off.

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  21. plectrum gimp says:

    @ Brian

    How would you like me to fuck off oh lord?…see what i did there..life of brian..that one part where brian is like…fine i am the messiah…and then curses them…fuck im so clever and by the way, my mothers peanut butter sandwiches are lush

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