If I May: Why I Keep Returning to “The Social Network”

I am not a “film-buff,” as the cool kids say, but I do have a lot of opinions about movies. I do not see all the movies nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but I do still find a way to be angry about whichever movie wins (at least most of the time). I’m not the kind of guy who will try and impress someone by talking about the “brilliant cinematography” of a movie; I’m the kind of guy who wishes he could try and impress someone like that. Here’s what I would describe as “the epitome” of my relationship with movies: in 2012, I refused to watch “Pitch Perfect” when it came out because I thought it would be “lame,” even though everyone around me said that it was worth watching. Finally, after nearly an entire year, I agreed to watch it … and I have now seen it so many times that revealing the exact number would be incredibly embarrassing for me.

Now that we have established that I am not an authority on movies and have no business writing about them, let me tell you why “The Social Network”, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, is one of my all-time favorite films.

I watched “The Social Network” most recently this past Sunday night. Ever since Mark Zuckerberg’s now-infamous deposition in front of Congress, I have been itching to watch the more fun, yet somehow even more hate-able, “Social Network” version of Zuckerberg. “The Social Network” Zuck is full of zingers, impassioned speeches and unrealistically fast speaking habits. The real Zuck is an awkward puddle of a man, which makes it all the more terrifying that he has built the Facebook empire.

One might criticize “The Social Network” for this unrealistic portrayal, which is fair if you want to watch a movie, in which boring lawyers interview a boring and awkward guy who is boring. By writing a heightened version of Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron Sorkin creates a more intoxicating protagonist. Furthermore, Sorkin’s interpretation allows us to be more comfortable with our disdain for Zuckerberg. If Zuckerberg was presented as bumbling and awkward, viewers may have been more likely to empathize with him. Instead, when asked if he was jealous about not getting punched for a Harvard Final Club, “Social Network” Zuck says things like, “Ma’am, I know you’ve done your homework and so you know that money isn’t a big part of my life, but at the moment I could buy Mount Auburn Street, take the Phoenix Club and turn it into my ping pong room.”

Prior to Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing, I already loved “The Social Network.” While Aaron Sorkin is not always my cup of tea (to put it lightly), his writing style fits this movie perfectly. Furthermore, David Fincher is one of the finest directors working today, and his precise and smooth style of filmmaking compliments Sorkin’s dense dialogue. However, this dichotomy between real-life Zuckerberg and “Social Network” Zuck invites a new way to appreciate the film; Sorkin and Fincher (along with an incredible cast) managed to make a film about two depositions and the founding of a website — a movie which consists mostly of conversations — one of the most captivating and rewatchable pieces of media in the past decade.