Much can be said about The Social Network. Much more can be said about several tangentially related topics. So, without further ado, I will begin saying these things.
First of all, why did I decide to watch and review this movie? That’s always a good starting point to launch into ramblings about themes and shit. I think I’ll make a habit of starting every post with this. Yup. So when I first saw the preview, I had no interest in seeing the movie. It looked irritating. There was very weak music and shots of a crying girl and people clicking on “add friend” and stuff. It seemed to focus on lame drama bullshit rather than entrepreneurial pwnage. It turns out the trailer was pretty misleading. More on that later. First, entrepreneurial pwnage tangent!
If someone had just told me, “Hey Mike, you know there’s a movie about Facebook comin’ up?” then I would’ve said, “Pfft, lame.” Then they would’ve explained, “Not, like, dorks doing boring stuff on Facebook. I mean about how that Zuckerberg dude started it and shit.” Then I would’ve wanted to see it. For this is one of my few interests. Not Facebook. Entrepreneurship!
For instance, I liked Middle Men a lot. It’s sort of like this Facebook movie but about internet porn instead of Facebook. There’s a great bit where these guys have their computer set up to play various whistling and honking sounds when they make a sale and they fight over which sound to use for each type of pr0n. That reminded me of when I used to sell MMORPG l00t. I had my computer set to make a loud booming email notification noise I could hear anywhere in the house, and when I heard it I’d eagerly run to check it out. Unfortunately I had to go log into some stupid MMORPG to hand over l00t instead of just lazing around and raking in cash from a fully automated system like the porn dudes. Also, I just made a small amount of money and lost interest and quit instead of getting super rich and having epic drama with Russian mobsters or friend backstabbing or whatever. But, maybe if I’d been moar skilled or moar ambitious or just focused on the most profitable stuff instead of on minimizing my effort/discomfort… bah. The miracle never happen. (That’s a reference, btw, not a grammar fail.) I moved on to other things while the virtual l00t industry exploded and one of the frickin’ Mighty Ducks kids came to dominate it. Epic win. There should be a movie about IGE. Anyway, this is one reason I’m interested in stories of internet entrepreneurship. ‘Cause that’s, like, what I used to do, except the famous or fictional dudes with movies about ‘em had moar success and moar interesting stories. Also, I’m a fanatical libertarian with a capitalism fetish.
To recap, I would’ve wanted to see this movie if I hadn’t been misled by the trailer. But I was misled. So why did I see it? The word “misled” always amuses me, btw, because once in junior high a kid pronounced it “missiled” when reading something aloud to the class. That was awesome. Anyway, I decided to go see The Social Network because I read conflicting reviews in the libertarian blogosphere. Jesse Walker bashed it but Stephan Kinsella, Jeffrey Tucker, and Robert Wenzel praised it. Who to believe? Well, I wasn’t inclined to trust Kinsella’s review. I’m a fan of his anti-IP stuff and other writings but he was way off the mark with his Avatar review. No offense, Kinsella, but Avatar is neither great nor libertarian. It’s common for libertarians to stretch to find libertarian themes in everything. But, like, “it’s wrong to slaughter people to steal their shit” isn’t really a libertarian theme. I mean because it’s too general, not that we’re pro-slaughter. Unnecessary clarification is fun.
I don’t want to talk about Avatar too much but I have three quick points to make about it:
1. It sucked. Very formulaic and predictable. Some decent action but it’s weakened by PG-13ness.
3. I watched Avatar and The Social Network for similar reasons. I expected Avatar to suck but I wanted to be culturally aware and understand the internet discussion of it.
Aight. Avatar tangent complete. Back to the “why see The Social Network” tangent. Jeffrey Tucker’s review carried more weight with me. He was spot on with his Wall Street review. And the comments on the Social Network review mostly agreed. One guy even said, “It’s sort of what I imagine Garet Garrett to be writing if he were around today, a kind of ‘Cinder Buggy’ or ‘The Driver’ of the digital age.” And then Jeffrey Tucker was like, “YES YES YES.” The Driver was awesome. I plan to read Cinder Buggy but I’ve been putting it off in the hopes that Jeff Riggenbach will make an audiobook of it. His voice rocks. I look forward to the days of moar advanced text-to-speech software. Hopefully in 10 years there will be a free program that can learn Jeff Riggenbach’s voice from a bunch of mp3 files and then narrate anything in his voice.
Alright, it should be clear now why I decided to go see The Social Network. Shall I begin my review, then? Nah, not quite yet. I want to briefly rant about Facebook first. I don’t use Facebook and don’t really understand the appeal of it. Perhaps partly because I’m antisocial and don’t have, like, multiple friends. But even if I did, I still wouldn’t like Facebook. It seems like a very bad idea to publicly post lots of info about oneself. It’s likely to be embarrassing somehow. And people often have lots of interests that aren’t shared by their friends. So there’s no reason to talk about them on Facebook.
I have several internet identities. Some things I’m comfortable discussing under my real name. For other things like this blog, I prefer to be anonymous. It’s profane and sloppily written. It might reflect poorly on me if people could read this crap by googling my name. And I have other interests that are downright embarrassing. So I use other handles in internet discussion of those things. People who know me in RL don’t need to know about my internet gaming bullshit, my fellow gamers don’t need to know about my reviews or RL crap, etc. I know Facebook has privacy settings. But it kind of defeats the purpose of Facebook if you’re paranoid about privacy and don’t publicly share any shit, right? But even though I have no interest in using Facebook myself, I understand that it’s an important thing that lots of people value. So I have some interest in the story of its creation. Or at least in a fictionalized movie version. I’m not sure if I care enough to look up the facts and see what parts were inaccurate.
Aight, I’ve written almost 1200 words in a movie review post without giving my thoughts on the movie. I should get to that. It was much better than I expected. It’s mainly about the awesomeness of creating stuff. And Zuckerberg is portrayed pretty positively. He seems like kind of an asshole but it’s a respectable nerdish assholery. At the beginning of the movie he h4x0rizes some school computers to get a bunch of girls’ photos and then makes a hotornot-type pic rating site. Yeah, that’s a dickish thing to do. But with the funky music playing when he’s getting the pics and coding it and a bunch of shots of guys enjoying using the site, the movie clearly says, “THIS IS AWESOME!”
I especially liked Sean Parker. He’s a Napster co-founder dude who gets involved with Facebook and gives lots of helpful advice. Like, they should expand to moar schools but not put up ads yet. And they should drop the “the” from “The Facebook.” And Zuckerberg should get business cards that say, “I’m CEO, bitch!” Parker’s a self-aggrandizing ass but he’s pretty much pure awesome. His advice is all good. And he sets up a meeting that scores $500k of venture capital. Surely we’re not supposed to dislike him for his rudeness. If you’re starting a business, it’s fucking awesome for a fast-talking genius to rattle off a bunch of helpful advice and hook you up with some investors. He gets stuff done.
The movie shows a couple lawsuits against Zuckerberg. One’s by the Winklevoss brothers. They hired Zuckerberg to make something like Facebook. He quit working for them and made Facebook on his own. Their case is bullshit because intellectual property is bullshit. Even if it’s not, the movie makes them look like jerks with no case. The other lawsuit is by Zuckerberg’s friend and Facebook CFO Eduardo Saverin. He has a more reasonable beef. He was misled (hehe) into signing a contract that allowed his stock to be diluted and lose most of its value. But he assishly sues for more than he’s possibly entitled to, and he kind of provoked this by freezing Facebook’s bank account just because he was pissed off. That makes it defensible for Zuckerberg to regard him as an enemy and pwn him with the contract. Maybe these parts of the movie could be interpreted in a more anti-Zuckerberg way. Even so, the movie seems more focused on the “Wooo! Getting stuff done!” side of making Facebook than on the “Boooo, he screwed his friend and his business partners” angle.
Rating time: 8/10. Not much wrong with the movie. I reserve my highest ratings for stuff that’s moar epic.