Unless you were living under a rock, you probably remember the David Fincher film, 'The Social Network' that was (unbelievably) released 10 years ago this year.
I remember watching it on a plane back in 2010 and liking it but I'd neglected re-watching it again since. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino's recent callout saying it was his "favourite film of the 2010's", I decided to revisit it as I didn't remember it being that good.
So I did. And I was delighted to find it has aged fantastically. Not only is it a great film, it makes you think a lot more deeply about some of the issues the tech behemoth faces today.
If you've never seen it, the film essentially documents the life of Mark Zuckerberg's rapid rise to billionaire status with the creation of what was then: "The Facebook". Despite the success of the website (and especially the level it's risen to today), we see Zuckerberg as an incredibly clever yet cold and deceiving intellectual, who's not afraid to trick others in order to maintain control.
It's an interesting film as it's obviously focussed around Mark Zuckerberg, but you kind of just... hate him. And love to hate him at the same time. He's a real dick to literally everyone around him, even those who have been most faithful. And yet some of the things he says you say to yourself "wait... he's actually not wrong there."
This constant conflict is what makes the film pop out to me most. I always love a film where that line is blurred between the differences of a protagonist and an antagonist (also see Taxi Driver and Joker). In the real world, things are never as clear-cut as between a 'good guy' and a 'villain' as we're led to believe from children's films.
The film doesn't have the tagline "You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies" for nothing. (Sidenote: that number is now at an eye-watering 2.6 billion). We see his best friend Eduardo Saverin get properly knifed by Zuckerberg, as well as the Winklevoss twins (who the Zuck seemingly steals the idea from).
The film shows the gradual damaging of these professional relationships on a gripping level. The constant cutting between the lawyers office and the rise of Facebook, work wonderfully together as you ponder how things could have gotten so bad and have this slowly revealed to you.
Disclaimer: It's worth noting here that the film is not entirely factual, though which bits are true and which aren't, is not always known. Sean Parker for instance, is said to not be as big an arsehole as he is portrayed in the movie (so majestically by Justin Timberlake I might add).
This brings me to one of my favourite quotes from Saverin in the film which, unbeknownst then, reverberates a lot more loudly in 2020:
"There was nothing to hack, people were going to provide their own pictures, their own information."
Don't we just? The biggest challenges Facebook is tasked with now is its handling of our private data, free speech and politics in general. The Social Network doesn't really explore that (and that's fine given these weren't considered issues back in 2010) but I find it chilling, the weight that it holds now.
Interestingly, I also feel like the language has turned away from a social "network" more towards social "media" ten years later. Less and less is it about the connections and people we know, and more has Facebook become about the never-ending content we consume erratically on a daily basis.
All-in-all I think The Social Network holds up as a fantastic must-watch (or must-rewatch) film in 2020. It makes you think about how much the world has changed since its release, yet still leaves you with the ever-relevant question: Can you be successful without being an asshole?