Zadie Smith writes with mixed feelings and a note of condescension in the New York Review of Books about The Social Network, a movie I saw four times in the theater. (Enough times to know that she misquotes the dialogue.) From the opening scene it’s clear that this is a movie about 2.0 people made by 1.0 people, she writes, and it does its job so well that it feels more delightful than it probably, objectively, is. Mercifully she ignores the tedious controversy over the film’s alleged misogyny in favor of a nuanced analysis of its generational significance. Remember half a decade ago, when you’d meet someone and one of you would say, “Are you on Facebook?”
So I went to see THE SOCIAL NETWORK on Saturday. In case you don’t know, the film chronicles wild-savant-genius Mark Zuckerberg and his founding of the popular social networking site Facebook. The film opens with Zuckerberg being dumped by his girlfriend. In this opening, he’s portrayed as a insanely smart, unselfconscious genius-asshole. As the film goes on, Zuckerberg continues to play the role of genius-asshole, sometimes, he is marked with a kindness that strikes the viewer more as naive than genuine.
But this is just a film. A film that is based on a book that is characterized more as “juicy fun” than “reportage” (from the Mark Zuckherberg wikipedia page linked above).
That being said, several things fascinated me about this film:
- Zuckerberg’s portrayal: People seriously can’t get enough of this romanticized genius bullshit. It’s pretty pathetic, if you ask me.
- The whole concept of the “social network” in relation to Zuckerberg, especially in terms of Agamben’s notion of the exception.
- Facebook itself as Agamben’s apparatus.