(The) Social Network

March 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

The final scene of The Social Network is, at least in my estimation, utterly gut-wrenching. There sits Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), clicking refresh over and over on his Facebook, hoping that his ex-girlfriend Erica will accept his friend request. Although this scene is probably completely fabricated, the emotion in it is palpable. There sits Zuckerberg, in front of his creation, his riches and prominence unable to salve his wounded heart. Up until this point in the film, Zuckerberg’s ego and immaturity have been almost unbearable, but suddenly he is transformed into an emotive, broken human being. It is both daring and brilliant to end the film with this scene.

Eisenberg does a fantastic job throughout the film of enabling us to understand Zuckerberg, but not necessarily sympathize with him. The film never portrays him in a positive light, and I think that the way you view Zuckerberg is largely based on your personality and beliefs about certain things. There are many instances in the film that paint Zuckerberg very unfavorably, especially when he scams his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) out of his share in Facebook. With that being said, I found myself sympathizing with him on a few occasions, more out of the similarities between my personality and that of Zuckerberg’s than from any redeeming qualities in his character. But after we’ve waded though all the shady business deals and underhanded business of Zuckerberg and almost made up our mind about him, that final scene comes with force.

Eisenberg acts the scene perfectly, and as the facade falls, we see Zuckerberg as he is: a lost, confused adolescent playing the part of a ruthless adult. He is still chasing after acceptance and cool, just as he has been his entire life. That realization allows us to step into his shoes, and look at ourselves from that perspective. Isn’t Mark Zuckerberg the same as all the rest of us broken men and women? I know I am no different. I spend my days lost in the hurried shuffle of the (post)modern world, looking for acceptance in the places it does not lie and trying to find my way through the many philosophical and cultural lies fed to me on a daily basis. I am broken, I am lost, and I see my reflection in the face of Eisenberg as he portrays a man struggling with the same things that the multitudes of twenty-somethings fight against today.

Good film and good art can reveal reality to us, and it often does it in unexpected places. The reality is that we are all deeply flawed human beings, regardless of the propensity we may have to do good. We are broken and lonely, even if we find all the success this world can offer. The fractured characters in The Social Network show this to us, but we can see it in our own lives. I am just like Mark Zuckerberg, at least the filmic representation of him, and it would do me well to remember my fallen state and the utter incapacity of anything in this world to ultimately fulfill me.

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