The Facebook movie: A 'Great Gatsby' for the new millennium?

In "The Social Network," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the classic outsider, says Scott Foundas in Film Comment, struggling to make his mark in a WASPy world

In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg struggles to fit in at Harvard University before pioneering the age of social networking with Facebook.
(Image credit: Getty)

It's easy to understand why The Social Network — an adaptation of Ben Mezrich's book on the founding of Facebook — is generating huge buzz, says Scott Foundas in Film Comment. Aaron Sorkin's script is "razor sharp," and director David Fincher's film is more than the story of how "something that began among friends quickly descended into acrimony and litigation once billions of dollars were at stake." It's a tale of "power and privilege," unfolding as Facebook's geeky founder, Mark Zuckerberg, struggles to fit in, and stand out, in the "WASP jungle" of Harvard. In this masterful film (which premieres at the New York Film Festival next month before opening nationally), he's nothing less than a modern-day version of The Great Gatsby — the "self-made outsider marking his territory" in a place where he doesn't seem to belong. Here, an excerpt:

Consider the movie's opening — a soon-to-be-classic breakup scene in which soon-to-be Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) verbally machine-guns his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) with a rant about the difficulty of distinguishing oneself "in a crowd of people who all got 1600 on their SATs." From there it's on to his conflicted feelings about that peculiar Harvard institution known as "final clubs," elite secret societies that, sops to diversity notwithstanding, remain decidedly inhospitable to monomaniacal, borderline Asperger's cases like Zuckerberg. As he holds forth, his face contorted into a tightly focused stare, looking through Erica rather than at her, she tries to keep up. "Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster," she laments before delivering the delicious coup de grace: "Listen. You're going to be successful and rich, but you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a geek. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It'll be because you’re an asshole."

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