by MOLLY LAMBERT
The Social Network
Dir. David Fincher
Wr. Aaron Sorkin
I took to social media immediately, because the two things I love most in the world are socializing and media. Alex Carnevale asked me to write a column about it for the Brown Daily Herald, where I was writing a pop culture column under his editorship after he asked me during one of the breaks in our (insane) playwriting workshop if I'd ever thought about writing a column (I hadn't). I was the first person I knew to join Friendster. My piece essentially went "What the fuck is this? So weird right?"
As a media nerd I resent hierarchies of media, which is why I always thought it was lame that people who "didn't even own a TV" readily jumped on the internet, as if one screen is more intelligent than another. I didn't always feel this way. After we graduated, Alex had to court me into writing on the internet. I thought I was going to do it the old fashioned print magazine way, a bridge that later gave out anyway.
Content is content (is content). Sure you are clicking through links and participating more, but on some level you are here to be passively entertained, to consume things that are being presented, and no kind of entertainment is better than any other kind. The enjoyment I get from reading Moby Dick is related to the enjoyment I get watching cute cat videos on the internet, albeit not identical. It activates the same regions.
The basic human reaction to being rejected is "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM?" It hardly matters if you aren't notable yet. This leads to phase 2: "I'LL SHOW THEM," where the donuts are made. Your own personal donuts may be in the realm of business, music, art. Wherever you pursue acheivement. Say donuts again (donuts).
The idea that romantic rejection spurs all creativity/achievement is a tale as old as Philip Roth (is this phrase catching on as a meme yet, this is my second usage attempt). Lady Gaga's whole creation myth involves being dumped by a hair metal bartender and deciding to make him pay by getting so fucking famous. And then she did, and now they are dating again, and he's not even hot/clearly using her.
If people could sue when they got dumped, they would. Friendships are actually exactly like romantic relationships. They are even more romantic ofttimes, because there is no sexual commitment involved. But like regular romantic relationships they involve emotional intimacy, bouts of jealousy, and occasionally a violent breakup.
Everyone has noticed how much more productive they are when working through some neurotic shit. On the most basic level all of Justin Timberlake's achievements since 'N Sync are him working through getting cheated on by Ms. Britney Spears in front of the whole world. Way to DHV, Brit Brit. Justin has always seemed like a bit of a Zuckerberg, he has a lot of the arrogant socially incompetent preternaturally gifted geek to him.
This was Fincher's best gay love story since Fight Club. This one was actually a gay love triangle, with Justin Timberlake as the charismatic fuck-up that seduces you out of your stable if somewhat boring by now real relationship. Do you think Justin and Sorkin tried to snort the stunt coke? I thought the denouement was rushed.
It's funny that people think of Fincher as such a macho director because of Se7en when he also directed the Madonna videos for "Vogue" and "Express Yourself"! He is just a genius, and if anything it was his transition from stylized fashion pop music videos to gritty violent films that first demonstrated his brilliance and versatility.
However he couldn't rescue time travel romance, the unfortunate, universally terrible genre that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button falls into (not really sticking up for The Panic Room either). The Social Network is not David Fincher's Citizen Kane, because David Fincher's Citizen Kane is the "Vogue" video. Twenty years later it is still the definitive music video, a pure distillation of form, content, and style.
Despite the appearance of mythical internet startup groupies (the thing about interns is true though), The Social Network was not particularly sexy. Trent Reznor's soundtrack was the hottest thing about it. Not that Fincher can't do sexy. His videos for George Michael's Freedom '90 and Billy Idol's Rock The Cradle Of Love basically spurred me into puberty (also you can literally see the 80s turn into the 90s).
Actually the sexiest parts of The Social Network were the super fast cross-cuts, and they totally reminded me of the instrumental breakdown in Freedom '90 and the accompanying video part with all the fast cross-cuts. The coldness makes sense though, as it is what makes Mark Zuckerberg undateable and hard to sympathize with.
Eduardo Saverin radiates some warmth at least, and it gives him a likability and good naturedness that Zuckerberg deeply envies. Andrew Garfield will make a good Spiderman probably, if I gave a fuck about superhero movies. I will say that I went to one Alpha Epsilon Pi party at Brown and it was exactly like that. Fincher made Harvard look beautiful beyond belief and stirred up all my old New England fantasies.
Sorkin has said that "workplace as alternative family" is one of his biggest themes, while admitting that he finds collaboration impossible. Personally I have never had a writing partner because I don't even begin to understand how that would work. A writers' room? Sure. I could cede total control to be part of a group. But could I give half? Could I compromise on some of my ideas in order to allow for another person's ideas that objectively might be equally valuable? There's no fucking way in hell.
There is a reason there are so few co-directors, and why they are generally siblings or married. I recognize that we live in such a male-oriented society that even I still sort of conceive of the artistic process as pumping my dick into something repeatedly. Did anyone believe Paul Thomas Anderson when he said that the "I have a competition in me" speech from There Will Be Blood wasn't about him personally? I sure didn't!
David Fincher is notoriously meticulous, and his movies of late have been especially meticulous. Zodiac is my favorite Fincher film, one of my favorite films ever. There is obviously something very OCD/code-writer/Zuckerberg about the image of David Fincher putting Jake Gyllenhaal through hundreds and hundreds of takes with no explanation (he was just trying to knock the actory quality out of Gyllenhaal's acting).
Alex Carnevale is Jesse Eisenberg, I am Andrew Garfield, and Will Hubbard is Justin Timberlake. I kid, I am just saying that because Will is always buying me apple martinis. Justin should only play douchebags. He has found his calling.
Actually Justin Timberlake should please stop acting, although he was certainly the best here he has ever been, and much better than in Alpha Dog. But I need him to make new music way more than I need him to be acting.
If you think California is all guacamole and margaritas and five-foot bongs and zip-lines into pools, you are totally right. Did they just reuse the sets from Alpha Dog for those party scenes? I wish Alpha Dog were more widely seen so I could make more specific jokes about it. I am sure it costs ten cents for a used copy.
The internet has taught me that people are radically transparent even when they try not to be. It is a way to channel your id directly, sometimes dangerously, and everyone's id is going "I'M THE BEST LOOK AT ME I'M THE BEST" and then also simultaneously "OH GOD FUCK I AM THE WORST" as an extension of the same thing. Namely that people are fucking fragile, even the accomplished ones. Especially the accomplished ones, who are looking over their shoulders for the next horse.
Mark Zuckerberg called his ex-girlfriend a bitch on livejournal, and now David Fincher has called him a bitch in front of the whole world. Nobody has ever called me a bitch on the internet to my knowledge (please do not fill me in if I am wrong), but I feel terrible for anyone that goes through the process of seeing themselves slandered anonymously. Jesse Eisenberg is way hotter than the real Mark Zuckerberg (faceMASH!)
I know exactly what drives me so nuts about Sorkin. That he is possibly the only other person in the universe who talks as much or as fast as I do. I take his whole life and career as a personal neg. He likes redheads and mushrooms and people who talk too much! Do you know what his personal hidden inhaler is? That he graduated from Syracuse with a degree in musical theater and spent the 80s as a struggling actor.
I always resented Sorkin's reputation as the male writer who writes great female characters, because they are mostly just snappy, and it reminds me of how disgusting it is that we feel the need to congratulate male writers just for writing female characters that are anything more than objects. Just imagine a condescending voice saying "and they write such realistic male characters!" Last thoughts: Literally every time they said "Saverin" I heard the beginning of "Venus In Furs" in my head.
You know what had the most unrealistic male characters? Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, but that is because cokehead television writers are not people, they are monsters. Also note to Aaron Sorkin: everyone knows Jewish girls don't want guys that look like Hitler, they want guys that look like the Winklevoss twins, i.e. Aryan supermen. Hitler's whole issue was that he looked like a Jew. DUH. And when I pay more attention to my blog than I do to my cat she lights a trash can on fire.
When you make things virtually, of course it doesn't feel real. In case you were wondering This Recording has no office and our masthead is basically that business card that says "I'M A FUCKING CEO." I have been waiting for a magical meeting with bay area angel investors since our inception (INCEPTION) and I got over that idea and recognized it as completely ridiculous probably two years into our run on wordpress.
Who does Aaron Sorkin consider his competition? He is the last and only of his totally outdated category, kind of like Jonathan Franzen. Here's a paradigm shift, I'M YOUR COMPETITION BROS. And I am winning every day that I write on the internet instead of in a notebook or on a sentimental typewriter or a computer with a USB plugged in and then snipped off. I may not be able to sell my cred yet, but it sure rules is that I can build it without the old networking channels here in an artistic meritocracy.
Some more disclosures: My own inner Zuckerberg went off on Alex for failing to post this yesterday, but it was an honest glitch. The internet's biggest joke is that it is a well-oiled machine just because it is technological. Even though the post was already done and ready last night I have been tweaking it all day obsessively, rearranging words and turning sentences over for no reason other than to please myself more.
The first DVD I ever rented (want to buy a Tower Video?) was "Fight Club." I was home alone for the weekend because I made myself a drink and that was the first time I ever got drunk alone (also the last?). It was also the first time I was ever attracted to Brad Pitt (again: Aryan supermen) and the first director's commentary I heard. What really freaks people out/draws them in about the web is how it blurs the lines between our inner and outer selves to an unprecedented extent. But hell I'm a writer, that's all I do!
Molly Lambert is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of the new novel Freedom and the inventor of Facebook. She made a billion dollars in the time it took to write this. She is the CEO of your dick and the owner of your soul. She also tumbls and twitters.
"The Gentle Hum of Anxiety" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)
"On We March" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)
"Eventually We Find Our Way" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)