Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Social Network: A Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin is a god. I promise to pray to him every day. The Social Network is an delicately crafted masterpiece, with a ton of story, told efficiently and entertainingly. I don’t know much about screenwriting, but I know how good Sorkin is.

The script just MOVES. Every scene, every word, pushes the story forward. Pushes the character development forward. It’s a roller coaster ride without a single explosion, without a single gun. It’s based on a fascinating story, which Sorkin pushes up a notch. Like any great screenwriter, he finds those. Little. Moments. in the life of Mark Zuckerberg, and plays them masterfully.

No scene is exposition, save a few seconds in the law office, but even those add a new dimension to the relationships Mark has with his former business partners.

But the interesting thing I noticed while reading the script was how little Zuckerberg actually did. Sure he came up with the idea, but the movie really wasn’t about his personal journey. The journey, instead, happened TO him, and while the other characters went through ups and downs, Zuckerberg was almost untouched. He was always above, or outside the struggles.

Sorkin writes him as the outsider, the loner, and the only time he has any real emotional connection is in the very first, and very last scene, with the girl from B.U. She, and what she represents, is the only thing that matters to Zuckerberg. He doesn’t care about money. He doesn’t care about making friends. He just wants prestige, to be the biggest, the hottest, the most desireable, yet even when he reaches the pinnacle, he’s still unsatisfied. The wound from the very first scene is still there. Still real.

The final line, “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You just want to be,” is the premise of the whole movie. He goes from wanting to be in the Harvard final clubs, to wanting to piss off his ex, to wanting to move and shake in Silicon Valley with actual asshole Sean Parker. Exclusivity is king, for Zuckerberg. He wants people to want him so he can tell them no, or at least hold their entrance in his hands. Even Facebook’s original programming only allowed people with Harvard email addresses in. Zuckerberg wants that social power, because he is really powerless.

In the end, he does reach the top, but he is all alone. People who’s respect he wanted don’t want him, they just want his money. The only friend he had he excluded, and now that friend just wants money.

He realizes everything he ever thought he wanted, he got, in a distorted Twilight Zone form. The vision he’s been following was a mirage. You can’t brute force acceptance. And all he wants, what he’s always wanted, is to be accepted.

And in the final seconds of the final scene, all he wants is that girl from B.U. to accept his friend request.

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