How ‘The Social Network’ Nailed the Evils of Mark Zuckerberg

December 27, 2019

Ten years later, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Social Network’ stands as a remarkably prescient portrait of the social media giant and its Machiavellian founder.n the opening scene of The Social Network, which came out 10 years ago, scored eight Oscar nominations, grossed some $224 million at the box office, and foreshadowed the decade of relentless growth and privacy gaffes Facebook would unleash on the world, we meet a college-aged Mark Zuckerberg, played by a perfectly stiff Jesse Eisenberg, spitting neuroses at a girl about to dump him.

The dumping doesn’t happen right away. It comes after a textbook Aaron Sorkin back-and-forth about Zuckerberg’s desire for distinction. At a college pub, Zuck drones at his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), rattling off unique qualities (perfect SAT scores, a capella skills, a rower’s physique), before homing in on the reason for his obsession: final clubs—Harvard jargon for frats, only far richer.

“You have finals club O.C.D.,” Albright says. “If I get in,” Zuck responds, “I will be taking you to the events and gatherings and you’ll be meeting a lot of people you wouldn’t normally get to meet.” He goes on to sneer at her school, Boston University, and accuse her of sleeping with a bouncer. Boy, bye.

When Zuckerberg goes home that night, drunk and bitter, he logs into his LiveJournal and writes a post about Albright, calling her a bitch, claiming she stuffs her bra, and musing over whether to make a website comparing photos of girls to farm animals.

The proto-incel monologue is real, pulled from Zuckerberg’s actual blog, Zuckonit. Also real is what follows: the future billionaire coding his infamous website, FaceMash, where users could sift through classmates’ photos, ranking the hotter out of two. That opening sets the stage for what The Social Network director David Fincher called “the Citizen Kane of John Hughes movies.” It was a droll tagline, but an apt one.

The movie both became an instant classic and placed the rise of Facebook in a familiar, if trite, narrative—the misunderstood, socially inept nerd  seeking revenge for the girls he didn’t get and the jocks who didn’t accept him. The facts behind screenwriter Sorkin’s neat psychological rendering were disputed (it’s unclear, for example, if Zuckerberg ever dated the girl on whom Albright is based), but for years, his portrait of Zuckerberg as awkward misanthrope hovered over the “boy CEO’s” public persona.

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