The Social Network (2010)
David Fincher


The Social NetworkGod created man in his own image. Aaron Sorkin’s Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), it appears, created the 21st century man in his own image: a two-dimensional, unchanging prisoner of a projected persona. This threatening, ever-endangered entity called the “image” – social and cinematic – is what both Mark Zuckerberg and director David Fincher are respectively after in The Social Network (2010), the one picture of recent times that has given birth to the finest of film criticism*. The closest the trajectories of these two figures ever come in the film is the surprising moment when Zuckerberg wields a digital camera to photograph his friends diving into the pool. Clearly, Fincher’s romanticizing of Zuckerberg’s dream run attempts to equate the latter with a film director – to possibly Fincher himself, although it is a bit difficult to imagine David Fincher as anything but the establishment – in the way both of these misfits vainly put up with the bureaucratic minutiae of the head honchos and thrust their vision – the images – forward even if it means compromise on personal fronts. Both of them overcome the schemes and vagaries of the real world – emotions, accidents and flaws – using the surety of binary numbers: Zuckerberg with his codes, Fincher with his Red One. Zuckerberg, however, belongs to both film noir and fantasy. He is both Jake Gittes who learns to give up hope the hard way and David who defeats the Goliaths of Harvard, both Mario who tries to win back his princess and the dragon that tries to imprison her in a digital jungle, both Faust and the Devil, a crusader who makes a million enemies to regain a friend. What makes The Social Network particularly rich is its beneficial (and sort of natural) ambivalence towards copyright, Web 2.0 and, in general, capitalism. In fact, Sorkin and Fincher seem to view Web 2.0 as being simultaneously socialistic and capitalistic, democratic and Darwinian, a refined laissez-faire system where the individual decides, drives and controls and a great leveler that brings down established social hierarchies in a matter of hours and a few keystrokes. These are exactly its pitfalls as well.

[*There have been numerous remarkable examinations of the film already. Here are my favorite five among the two dozen or so that I read: Adam Nayman, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Jim Emerson, Manohla Dargis and Tom Hall]

(Image Courtesy: Hollywood Chicago)