In a recently posted New Yorker profile of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Social Network screenwriter Aaron Sorkin tells Juan Antonio Vargas that the film is “a classical story of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and jealousy.”
Sorkin describes Zuckerberg as a “brilliant guy who’s socially awkward and who’s got his nose up against the window of social life. It would seem he badly wanted to get into one of these final clubs” — one of the exclusive, elite-within-elite party clubs at Harvard.
“In the movie’s opening scene, according to a script that was leaked online, Zuckerberg and his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), a student at Boston University, sit in a campus bar, exchanging disparaging zingers. (‘You don’t have to study,’ he tells her. ‘How do you know I don’t have to study?’ she asks. ‘Because you go to B.U.!’) Erica takes his hand, stares at him and says, ‘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 tech 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.’
“Sorkin insisted that ‘the movie is not meant as an attack‘ on Zuckerberg. As he described it, however, Zuckerberg ‘spends the first one hour and fifty-five minutes as an antihero and the last five minutes as a tragic hero.’ He added, “I don’t want to be unfair to this young man whom I don’t know, who’s never done anything to me, who doesn’t deserve a punch in the face. I honestly believe that I have not done that.’
“Despite his goal of global openness, however, Zuckerberg remains a wary and private person. He doesn’t like to speak to the press, and he does so rarely. He also doesn’t seem to enjoy the public appearances that are increasingly requested of him. This makes the opening of The Social Network an awkward situation. It will be the introduction that much of the world gets to Zuckerberg.
“Facebook profiles are always something of a performance: you choose the details you want to share and you choose whom you want to share with. Now Zuckerberg, who met with me for several in-person interviews this summer, is confronting something of the opposite: a public exposition of details that he didn’t choose. He does not plan to see the film.”