Friday, November 5, 2010

It's All About Me and..."The Social Network"

[It's All About Me and..." is my unique version of book/movie reviews. They are not your typical reviews, so don't complain if you learn more about me than about the book or movie under review.]
Yeah, the so-called “Facebook Movie.” Of course I’m writing about the Facebook movie because if you know me at all you know that I’m willfully addicted to Facebook. But - surprise! -I’m not reviewing The Social Network as a Facebook denizen. I’m reviewing it as a mom.

The Social Network opens with Mark Zuckerberg (played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg,) a Harvard University student who is about to create a new world inhabited by 500 million people. He is at a small table in a crowded bar talking to his girlfriend, a sweet-faced Boston University student who shares similar geeky interests. Or at least she wants to share his interests. Actually, we really don’t know what she wants because the “date” consists of her trying to make sense of Zuckerberg’s hyper-speed cogitations as he talks and talks and talks.
Did you know there are more people with genius IQs living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States?...How do you distinguish yourself in a population of people who all got 1600s on their SATs?...I could sing in an a cappella group but I can’t sing…or I can row crew or invent a 25 dollar PC. I can’t do the first and I’ll get bored doing the second so…

On and on he goes. And my heart sinks because I know what this is called. I know what he is doing. And I know who he is. He is “monologuing.” He’s about to get dumped. And he has Asperger’s.

I’ll pause this review for a micro-moment for some background. According to Autism Speaks, “Asperger's Syndrome is a neurological disorder that, like others on the spectrum, is marked by difficulties in communication and social interaction.” To my eye, Asperger’s is a cluster of personality traits, some of them weaknesses and some of the strengths, which present a distinctive display of commonalities across individuals. Though it is obviously insulting to say if you know one Aspy, you know them all, there is a grain of truth in there. Therefore, within the first five minutes of The Social Network, my Aspy alert was blaring in my head. Lights flashing. One, two, three cherries dialing up. Ding, ding, ding.

From that moment on, I felt like I was watching a different movie from the rest of the theater. It was as if I was residing in a parallel movie universe, watching the same flickers on the screen but seeing very different images. While the Mark Zuckerberg character was droning on and on (his about-to-be ex-girlfriend laments, “…it’s just that since the beginning of the conversation about finals clubs I think I have missed a birthday,”) I am shrinking in my chair, groaning, clenching my fists into my stomach. I am thinking, Am I sitting here in a theater with a hundred strangers watching my son’s future?

In the obvious sense The Social Network is about the high-speed, turbulent rise to fame of Mark Zuckerberg as he develops the new frontier of global socialization. Most viewers marvel at his genius single-minded absorption (a classic Aspergian trait.) But really the movie about his frustration with his inability to, quite frankly, have friends (another classic Aspergian trait.) Zuckerberg’s attempts at friendship and social acceptance are horrifically clumsy and tactless (uh, yeah, another classic…oh you know the rest. ::sigh::) As the movie continues, I can almost see the thought bubbles over other viewers’ heads: “This guy is a totally a-hole.” But my thought bubble is screaming: “He’s not an a-hole! He has Asperger’s!!!”

Oh dear. With apologies, I realize that you loyal few have read all this way for no review at all. For I now must declare myself incapable of seeing The Social Network with any objectivity whatsoever. Plus, you’ll probably see the movie completely differently than I did anyway. So should you see it? Yeah. Sure. The people I was with thought it was a great movie. It’s definitely an original and well-told story. You’ll feel like you got your money’s worth, I think. So go ahead and see the movie if you haven’t already.

But, please oh please, when you see The Social Network keep in mind that Mark Zuckerberg is not an a-hole.

He just has Asperger’s.

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