It’s no surprise that the new movie The Social Network has taken Harvard’s campus by storm. Across the internet and newspapers, its reviews and ratings are through the roof; perhaps there’s an award or two in its future? The quick wit and dry humor of Jesse Eisenberg (playing Mark Zuckerberg) keep viewers in fits of laughter while the reality of Zuckerberg’s numerous court litigations remind us that success comes with a cost. Eisenberg plays the socially awkward genius/angsty teen character to a T. He’s an eloquent smartass with a sharp tongue and no regard for authority. But despite his hard outer core, he’s still a victim of trying legal proceedings (all of the codes were his own, after all!). As he builds the site how can we not encourage its success? Let’s be real; where would we be without it? Anticipation rises and seat edges are clutched as the network expands to other schools, then to the west coast. Through the film, Eisenberg’s character transitions seamlessly from a bitter, freshly dumped nerd, to a wishful programmer, to a successful tycoon, all the while still as reticent as he was when he started the venture. Meanwhile, this transition is punctuated by Administrative Board appearances and legal testimonies, reminding viewers that it’s tough being on the top. By the end of the film, I was torn between loving Zuckerberg for changing the world at such a young age and hating him for essentially kicking his best friend to the curb. Facebook is cool. Backstabbing is not.
But like any Hollywood creation, The Social Network is just that, a creation. Movies are made to sell tickets and in today’s society, the more drama the better. As Harvard students, we are particularly sensitive to the *ahem* inaccuracies of the film. Due to Harvard’s ban against filming on campus, Eisenberg runs through Harvard Square…straight onto the campus of Johns Hopkins University. We scoffed and laughed as the camera panned upward to show a sign reading “Kirkland House” on a building that was definitely not on Harvard’s campus. We scratched our heads during the final club party scenes which were rife with scantily clad females, males sporting ties and suit jackets, and gratuitous amounts of illicit drugs. The acid tablets and lines of cocaine were balanced out very nicely by half naked gals dancing on tables. Classy image, although I’ve never seen a Harvard party play out quite like that before. What’s more, it seems to be well known around campus by now that Zuckerberg wasn’t even particularly interested in joining a final club; he was perfectly content with his status as a brother in Alpha Epsilon Pi, Harvard’s Jewish fraternity. But The Social Network is Hollywood’s creation, and a well adjusted Mark Zuckerberg simply won’t sell as many tickets as an angsty, status-hungry one will. According to an article written in Slate Magazine by Zuckerberg’s former freshman dorm-mate Nathan Heller, Zuckerberg wasn’t even the moody introvert that the film depicted him to be. In his article “You can’t Handle the Veritas: What Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher get wrong about Harvard—and Facebook,” Heller writes that during his days at Harvard, Zuckerberg was “outwardly friendly, often smiling, confident, inclined, if anything, to talk at outdoor volume.” But again, let’s be real. Happy, well-adjusted nerds who invent globe-altering technologies just aren’t box office gold.
So what’s the verdict on The Social Network? If you’re looking for a factual documentary on Facebook’s creation, keep moving. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a movie that’s worth a ten dollar ticket and a six dollar bag of popcorn, this is it. Entertainment wise, this movie is fantastic; you’ll both love and hate Eisenberg’s character, all the while praising the real Mark Zuckerberg for creating the ultimate social networking site from a college dorm room. Okay, so it’s not the most accurate film ever—but who goes to the movies to learn, anyway? Facebook’s all about the drama.