Sneak Peek: ‘The Social Network’

Sep 25, 2010 10:19pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Emily Ann Brandstetter blogs: In an age where people always seem to be online, an audience gathered Wednesday night to watch a screening of the highly anticipated movie “The Social Network,” sans Internet.  Moviegoers had to turn over their cell phones, go through baggage checks and undergo a security wand check before entering the Regal Cinemas at the Carousel Mall in Syracuse, N.Y.  A diverse crowd came to the free screening: high school and college students, and older adults, all intrigued by the popular social networking site Facebook. The film, set from 2003 to 2005, tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, who created Facebook while he was an undergraduate at Harvard University. In the film, fueled by anger after being dumped by his girlfriend, Zuckerberg is out for revenge, and hacks into Harvard’s school directory to make a website that scandalously compares female classmates.  The site’s popularity quickly leads to Zuckerberg’s inspiration for Facebook.  But as the film shows,  Facebook might not have been his original idea.   As the popularity of the site grows, so does Zuckerberg’s legal trouble, when he is faced with two lawsuits.   He callously claims he’s done nothing wrong, despite forcing his best friend from the company.  He also faces allegations that he stole the idea for the site from three fellow students who hired him to build them a similar website.  The film makes a less than flattering portrayal of Zuckerberg to say the least and it’s no surprise the real Mark Zuckerberg does not support the film, nor does he plan to see it. Although the film does center on the controversy surrounding the creation of his site, Zuckerberg is keeping himself in the news for other reasons.  Thursday it was widely reported that Zuckerberg intends to donate $100 million to the Newark, N.J., public school system.  According to The New York Times, this will be the largest public philanthropic contribution for the man who “The Social Network” says is one of the youngest billionaires in the world. Reviews for the film were mixed. “The movie actually made Facebook seem cooler,” Erika Merola, a junior biology major at Syracuse University, told  “I didn’t know it was started by a college student.” H. Whitt Bell, a senior television-radio-film major at Syracuse, was more critical. “I thought it started off strong and it had possibilities because it’s such a popular topic, but the plot stalled.”  College students were not the only people filling the seats at the screening, which comes as no surprise since the fastest growing Facebook demographic in 2009 were women 55 years and older according to the Tracking Facebook blog.  Geri Jones, a homemaker in her 50s, came to the film with three of her friends and her daughter.  Jones does have her own Facebook page, but other than looking for old college friends, she says she does not use her account that much.  “It’s too personal for me,” she said, “and as an older person I don’t have much time to go on and write down what I do every day.  I don’t need the social network at this point.”  Free screenings are taking place across the country, in cities including Pittsburgh, Pa., Virginia Beach, Va. and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. within the next week.  The film, produced by Columbia Pictures and written by Syracuse University graduate Aaron Sorkin, officially opens on October 1. 

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