“The Social Network” is a Terrible Movie, but We Say we Love it Anyway

All these critics agree -- The Social Network is a landmark film. Maybe I watched the wrong movie.

News Feed: “Facebook is now in a complicated relationship with The Social Network.”

I may be the last person on the planet who, before this weekend, had not seen “The Social Network.” Now that I’ve caught up, I wish I was still the last person on the planet who hadn’t seen “The Social Network.”

My opinion of the movie has little to do with the fact that I was friends with Mark Zuckerberg in public school. We weren’t extremely close, but I knew him well enough that my mother was willing to make him the sole exception to the “No Dating Until You’re 18” rule (oh! Mothers and their power of foresight!). “The Social Network” is not a bad movie because it’s an inaccurate portrayal of one of the most enigmatic (and powerful) characters of our generation. It’s a bad movie because it’s superficial, boring, and disjointed.

Our obsession with Facebook and its creator is a complicated one that dictates the way we respond to “The Social Network.” Until recently, Zuckerberg stayed out of the spotlight. When we did see him interviewed, he was reticent, brilliant but hard to relate to. The lawsuits attacking possible underhanded dealings threatened to take Facebook from us. We knew there were a few of them, but what were they about? And yet, while there were those who tried to halt its forward march, “to Facebook” became an action we can’t live without.

We’re inclined to like “The Social Network” because as Facebook rapidly penetrated every click and every interaction, we craved a  neat summary of how this idea born in a Harvard dorm room transformed into a global phenomenon — a phenomenon that has irrevocably changed the way people connect.

In a world where getting their first determines "coolness," The Social Network is only cool because it told the facebook story first.

We live in a world where getting there first is the principal criteria for “coolness,” the leading criteria for critical acclaim. The iPod will always trump other mp3 players because it got there first. “The Social Network” will always trump future Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg movies because it was the first to tell us the Facebook story. Stephen Holden of the NYTimes calls it “a once-in-a-generation movie,” and it is, simply because the next Facebook movie is another decade in the making.

Facebook is an empowering platform that  allows us to not only communicate, but to curate our lives.  It enables us to pick and choose and update the details that shape the way we’re perceived by our peers. We have become objects in an online museum where our solo-exhibits change as frequently as we choose. Even if Facebook one day implodes, an unlikely event now that it’s so ingrained in our social and digital fabric, we will never revert to the old ways of locating, messaging, and digitally relating to people.

That’s the true Oscar-caliber performance of Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Sorkin’s and Fincher’s snooze fest pales in comparison.

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8 thoughts on ““The Social Network” is a Terrible Movie, but We Say we Love it Anyway

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention “The Social Network” is a Terrible Movie, but We Say we Love it Anyway « They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband -- Topsy.com

  2. Here’s the problem with your post. You think that your emotions matter than they do. Different people were affected emotionally by the film in different ways.

    Whether thrilled or bored or otherwise, the majority conceded that it was a cleverly constructed, well made movie with good performances. Just because a movie is these things doesn’t mean you have to like it. You don’t need to invent reasons for a contrary opinion. You’re a stranger on the internet, not Armond White.

    The real art of writing about movies is to ensure that the content of what you write is not significantly changed by the mood you happened to be in when you saw the film you’re writing about. A great film critic is right even when you disagree with how they felt about it. Explain why you didn’t like it. That’s all you need to do. No need to assume that others are “wrong.”

    Your whole thesis, “People only liked it because Facebook is a big, popular thing,” is ridiculous. People liked it because they liked it. You (as in you specifically) don’t contrive opinions, so why would you think others do? Don’t assume that you are smarter than everyone else. Don’t assume that others are dumber than you. The people who liked The Social Network aren’t wrong. You aren’t wrong for disliking it. Argue your points. Explain that you didn’t like it in a way that other people can understand. Don’t assume that people only pretend to like certain movies. That’s absurd.

    San Francisco film critic Mick LaSalle says that a critic should sit and stare into space and do nothing but think for five minutes about the movie they’re going to write about before they write a review. You should heed his advice. All you need to do is think.

  3. Kathleen

    It’s not unfair to read a certain conceit in my post. Though, my conceit comes nowhere near that of the “The Social Network” producers, who claim their film is the definitive look at the birth of the facebook phenomenon. At the Golden Globes, they thanked Facebook and Zuckerberg for allowing them to tell their story.

    “The only thing they got right are the t-shirts and the sandals,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with 60 Minutes. “I think I owned every single t-shirt they had me wearing.”

    Don’t assume I sit here under the guise of film critic — if I wished to establish myself as one, this post and this blog as a whole would read very differently. And here’s the problem with every blog: we all think our opinions matter more than they do.

    You might be right to chastise me for saying that our thirst to have the facebook story assembled for our entertainment is the ONLY reason people like this movie. BUT I’m not wrong when I say that the public craves some sort of insight into the Zuckerberg myth. And I’m not wrong to say we’re inclined to like”The Social Network” because of this craving. Prerelease press and a film’s subject matter always predisposes us to a certain opinion. Don’t be ridiculous and assume people walk into a theater without planning to have a particular opinion when they walk out.

  4. Andrea

    I just got it from Netflix and bailed out after an hour and a half. It’s boring and overstuffed with Aaron Sorkin’s trademark pompous dialog. Definitely not a contender for Best Picture as far as I’m concerned.

  5. J

    I agree! I thought this movie was terrible! There was absolutely nothing to it, the plot was boring and yet people are obsessed? I also agree that people only liked this movie and praised it so highly because it is facebook. It gives them the feeling that the hours they spend on facebook every day are somehow justified because the man behind its’ creation is a genius. How it received any Oscar nominations let alone wins is beyond me. Are we really going to compare this movie to Gladiator, The Sound of Music or The English Patient? Just to name a few…

  6. Beeper

    I finally watched about 1 and a half hours of it last night. I’d agree with your assessment on the film. It was terrible.

    Ridiculous dialogue, shallow caricatures of characters, inaccurate on many fronts and worst of all, boring. I could have forgiven it had it been entertaining or vaguely biopic.

  7. Howard

    Great movie. Deserving of the Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Haters will hate, as they say but honestly, anyone with good taste can see the greatness in this film.

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