The Social Network: Film Analysis

The synopsis of the movie

Synopsys – Settings

In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (who back then was a student at Harvard) comes up with the idea of creating a website, where students would be able to rate each other’s photos. To have this idea actualized, Mark hacks into the campus database while using the algorithm, created by his friend Eduardo Saverin. This instantly wins Mark the fame of being a truly talented programmer with the matter being brought to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss – two senior students at the same university, in charge of running the Harvard Connection website.

Winklevosses share with Mark their vision of turning this website into the socialization-platform for students and offer him to take care of the technical aspects of their initiative’s would-be practical implementation. After having accepted the offer, however, Mark decides to dedicate himself to creating his website (thefacebook.com) while drawing heavily on what he has heard from Cameron and Tyler, for the proposed reorganization of the university’s web-based social network. Eduardo provides Mark with much assistance throughout the quest’s early phase and invests $1000 for handling the initial costs of bringing the concerned project into being.

Synopsys – Conflict/Climax/Resolution

As time goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent for Mark and Eduardo that their entrepreneurial takes on thefacebook.com do not quite correlate. Whereas Eduardo believed that the created website was ready to be used for peddling commercial adds, Mark continued to insist that it still needed to gain more popularity with visitors, before being turned into the instrument of generating a commercial profit. Mark’s encounter with Sean Parker (the founder of Napster) convinced the former even further that this was indeed the most appropriate strategy to pursue.

This development contributed more than anything towards causing the relationship between Mark and Eduardo to deteriorate to the point when the latter decides to withdraw from the project with his share of invested funds. Even though both characters managed to reconcile later in the film, it did not take them too long to end up considering each other enemies again. The reason for this is quite apparent. As one can infer from the film, after having been allowed to play an active role in managing the company (incorporated as Facebook), Sean never ceased to conspire against Eduardo – something that caused the site’s second co-founder to lose 34% of the company’s shares.

As a result, Eduardo freaks out and threatens Mark with a lawsuit in the most socially inappropriate manner. Mark’s continual unwillingness to share riches with Cameron and Tyler prompted the brothers to come up with the lawsuit against him, as well. In one of the film’s final scenes, Mark is seen being advised by his lawyer to tackle the situation using agreeing to sign a settlement-deal with the involved parties. As the movie’s closing titles imply, this was exactly what Mark decided to do. After having realized himself as the country’s youngest self-made billionaire, Mark did not experience any difficulties, whatsoever, while agreeing to have the matter settled amicably.

The main characters in The Social Network are as follows:

  • Mark Zuckerberg – the founder of Facebook.com. He is shown as having been a somewhat nerdy and vindictive (but also visionary) young man, marked by the spark of genius. The character’s foremost psychological trait is his ability to prioritize working on the concerned web-project above everything else.
  • Eduardo Saverin – the social network’s second co-founder. In the film, this character is portrayed as an utterly passionate and industrious individual, capable of recognizing the commercial potential of hi-tech undertakings before everyone else does. Eduardo, however, is also shown to be tempted to make important business-related decisions while feeling strongly emotional. The character’s other weakness is reflective of his tendency to trust business partners a little too much.
  • Sean Parker – the founder of Napster. Being just as “hi-tech visionary” as Mark  himself, Sean is represented possessing much wisdom about the essence of profiteering dynamics in the virtual realm – something that proved him an indispensable asset for Facebook, in general, and Mark, in particular. At the same time, however, Sean is revealed to be emotionally comfortable with doing drugs and conspiring against the project’s original creators. As it is being shown in the film, Sean is also quite incapable of pursuing any long-term relationships with women.
  • Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss – (twin brothers) the creators of the Harvard Connection website. The director strived to have both characters being perceived as “antagonists” by the audience. However, these characters’ discursive positioning in the movie does not appear to be reflective of any lack of societal morals, on their part. Rather, it is namely the fact that Cameron and Tyler seriously believed that they were “destined” for social prominence, as the heirs to some “old money” fortune, which seems to be the most disturbing psychological trait of theirs. As one can infer from watching the film, it is specifically the possession of too much self-confidence, on these characters’ part, which prevented them from being able to succeed in confronting Mark.

PR issue or situation

First PR-issue

Probably the main message, conveyed by The Social Network, is that when it comes to ensuring the popularity of a particular website, one must never overlook the importance of positioning it as such that provides plenty of interactive opportunities for potential visitors. In their turn, the would-be provided socialization services need to correlate well with the essence of unconscious anxieties in young people, which ultimately revolve around the issues of sex and domination.

Enough, Mark Zuckerberg proved himself smart enough to realize that in the eyes of students, the value of a particular web-networking activity positively relates to its varying capacity to serve as the instrument of sexual mating – pure and simple.

The validity of this suggestion is best illustrated, regarding the scene in which it dawns on Mark that people will be naturally drawn to visit Facebook, for as long as this would enable them to gain information about the “dating availability” of each other. After all, as the movie’s main character aptly observed: “People don’t walk around with a sign on them that says (I’m available)” (Fincher, 2010). This observation, on his part, can be deemed as having been the starting point of Facebook’s rapid rise to the position of being recognized as the world’s most popular social network.

Second PR-issue

What also contributed rather substantially towards ensuring the commercial success of Facebook is that the web-resource in question was designed to enable visitors to go about aspiring for domination in the “online mode”, without having to face much confrontational risk throughout the process’s entirety. And, as it was implied earlier, the actual reason why most students are preoccupied with striving to impose their dominative authority on others, is that this naturally makes them more attractive to the representatives of the opposite sex.

While expounding on what prompted him to create Napster, in the first place, Sean Parker says: “The girl I loved in high school was with the co-captain of the varsity lacrosse team, and I wanted to take her from him” (Fincher, 2010). Therefore, it will be thoroughly appropriate to refer to the above-stated, as being suggestive of the fact that the key PR-precondition for guaranteeing that a particular social network will prove commercially lucrative, is to position it as something that makes it easier for visitors to satisfy their libidinal drives.

Ethic’s questions behind the movie

First Ethical Issue

There can be very little doubt that Fincher’s film does, in fact, raise several different ethically relevant questions. The most prominent of them can be formulated as follows: in what way does the factor of interpersonal friendship affect the essence of the entrepreneurial relationship between individuals? Even though The Social Network does not provide any conclusive answer in this regard, one’s exposure to Fincher’s film is mostly to invoke in the person’s mind the idiomatic suggestion “dollar has no friends”.

What adds to increasing the likelihood of such an eventual development is that throughout the film’s entirety, the character of Mark Zuckerberg is presented paying very little attention to the financial aspects of promoting the newly created social network.

This, however, did not prevent him from applying an active effort into trying to cheat the rest of the website’s co-founders (particularly Eduardo) out of shares. Evidently enough, Mark used to derive much pleasure from having realized himself as one of the richest individuals in the US. Hence, the character’s tendency (exhibited during the legal trials) to emphasize the sheer extent of his riches, which he believed was indeed reflective of his value as the society member. This, of course, subtly legitimizes one’s commitment to making money, as the foremost indication that the concerned person does have what it takes to succeed in pursuing the “American dream”.

Second Ethical Issue

The discussed film is also notable for its promotion of the the idea that the more a particular entrepreneur is willing to turn a blind eye on the considerations of morality, the greater would be his or her chance to get ahead in becoming rich. After all, as it can be seen in The Social Network, the reason why Winklevoss brothers ended up being unable to do anything about Mark’s theft of their “intellectual property” is that it has taken them way too long to react to this person’s indecency. In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that both characters used to make a point in trying to handle the situation in a “gentlementary” manner.

Thus, it will be appropriate to conclude this paper by suggesting that as a whole, Fincher’s movie works to expose the utter fallaciousness of some different neoliberal notions, which today’s students are encouraged to perceive representing an undisputed truth-value, such as “corporate social responsibility” and “ethically sound business”. This simply could not be otherwise – in the aftermath of having watched The Social Network, one will be strongly motivated to brush aside the idea that it is possible to mix ethics with business, in the first place.

Reference

Fincher, D. (Director). (2010). The social network. Web.