I went with my 14-year-old son, Aaron, to see “The Social Network” which as you know, unless you’ve been marooned on an island, is all about the founding and evolution of Facebook. Following is my recollection of our conversation right afterward. For additional information and clarity, I’ve added some notes in parentheses.
Me: Wow, the first word that comes to mind for me, after seeing that movie, is “Hubris.”
Aaron: What does that mean?
Me: It’s another word for arrogance. I just thought the characters were so arrogant. What did you think?
Aaron: Well, I just thought the lead character was not a nice guy, he talked too fast about things that no one really cared about, and he was just rude, and non-likeable.
Me: You mean the character, not the actor, right?
Aaron: Yeah, the character. The actor, Jesse Eisenberg, was terrific.
Me: I found myself totally caught up in the story. It’s an amazing one of greed, the changing worlds of technology, and the elitism at Ivy League schools. To me, it was more of a tragedy than a success story.
Aaron: Tragedy, what was sad about it? The only sad part was that he got dumped by his girlfriend.
Me: Don’t you think it was sad how two friends were broken apart by greed? Don’t you think the ending was sad?
Aaron: I only thought it was sad that they didn’t stay friends and that the Justin Timberlake character (Note: Shawn Parker, the creator of Napster) had such an impact on Mark Zuckerberg (Note: the main founder of Facebook). I just wish the ending was more clear.
Me: I think that was intentional, to leave it vague. To me, the Shawn Parker character represented everything bad about making money, fame, and success -how it can completely go to your head.
Aaron: He was on drugs, wasn’t he?
Me: Yeah, I guess so, if the movie was accurate, but are you saying that forgives his selfish behavior?
Aaron: No. I read all about the movie and most of it was exaggerated. David Fincher (the director) said it was pure fiction but Aaron Sorkin (Note: the writer and creator of “The West Wing”) said it was all fact. I don’t know what that meant.
Me: Where did you read that?
Aaron: I think it was the newspaper. Entertainment Weekly had 3 articles in one issue all about the Facebook movie…even the cover was all about it.
Me: Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper or Entertainment Weekly?
Aaron: Yeah, but not in those US magazine type weeklies. Entertainment (Weekly) is fact.
Me (rolling my eyes): What did you think about the groupie scenes? Do you think any of that was real? Or all the partying?
Aaron: I think that was added to make it more interesting and to have female characters.
Me (laughing): I bet you’re right. I was amazed by how fast it all took place. Heck the opening card said 2003 and now Facebook has 500,000,000 members!
Aaron: I think it was the best movie of the year, so far!
Me: You always say that.
Aaron: C’mon, I’m actually serious this time.
Me: Well, I was completely into it. It held my interest completely for its 2-hour length.
Aaron: I find it funny how it was directed by David Fincher, who made “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “Fight Club” (Note: Fincher also directed “Seven,” “Panic Room,” and “Zodiac.”).
Me: I’m hungry, wanna get something to eat?
Aaron: Yeah, let’s go to John O’Groats (Note: This is Bruce and Aaron’s favorite place to eat).
Note: After the above was written, there’s been some controversy in the Social Media world that the movie “Hollywood-ized” the importance of Social Media. Frankly, I got fully caught up in that Hollywoodization, but on reflection think these criticisms are valid. Having come from a quarter-century in Hollywood, I’m all too aware of its failings. Nonetheless, the movie is well done, but doesn’t honor the truly HUGE changes Facebook (and other Social Media) have wrought. One example of the impact of Social Media is my talk at a recent conference (find it at the bottom of my “About Me”). For a more in-depth look at the controversy about Facebook, read this column in “The Wrap.”
My Recommendation: “The Social Network” is a great movie for parents to go with children that are either mature or old enough for the subject matter. It’s truly about our generation gap and how parents and kids will be interacting from now to forever, given the emergence of modern technology and the Internet. Please be conscious, however, of the “Note” above.
The Roger Ebert review of “The Social Network” is excellent and here are some interesting “facts” about how true the story is on IMDB.