Sunday, October 3

Considering "The Social Network"

I didn't very much like Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay." Part of this was the fault of its historical fiction genre where Chabon gleefully inserted his characters into scenes with Stan Lee and Salvador DalĂ­ and their luminous ilk. This tic reached its most egregious when the title characters attended the premiere of Citizen Kane, immediately recognized its greatness and were inspired to write the greatest adventures of the Escapist. I hated that scene and would have quit reading then if I hadn't been in Kenya and without many other novels in waiting, but I found myself in something of a real life parallel when I saw the opening of David Fincher's The Social Network this Friday past.

The movie is brilliant. Beginning with the acting and moving on through to the script and score and cinematography, there is nothing less than excellent. Some forty critics on Metacritic and another one hundred and sixty-three on Rotten Tomatoes celebrate all of these.

But a work's impact isn't always about its particular brilliance. No Country for Old Men and Das Leben der Anderen and Toy Story 3 are all equally brilliant movies, but they never captured my imagination in the same was The Social Network has. I saw it at the right time. It's a movie for me and my generation.

The Social Network is about a man who did things his own way. Inspired by arrogance, spite, challenge, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a website no one asked for but now is valued in the billions of dollars. It may not have been done the best way or for the best reasons, but Zuckerberg did it without kowtowing to the elite, the privileged, the powerful, the entrenched, his seniors. As much as anything else, it was an enormous middle finger to them. He did something they couldn't and did it better. Even when he paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits, he won.

Sean Parker tells Zuckerberg late in the film "This is our time." It is. The Baby Boomers are retiring. The Internet has created something new. The opportunity to do something, to be something important is there if we reach for it.

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