Sandwiched between the viewing of these two profoundly provocative films based on real people I read the story of the tragic suicide of an 18 year old college boy who was filmed clandestinely, having a sexual encounter which was subsequently screened on the Internet. He knew the filmmakers, “friends” who were responsible for his death. The victim and his friends were on Facebook.
Trying to intellectually masticate these three events, cognizant that fifteen years ago they would have qualified as futuristic fodder for fiction; today, blatantly real because the minds of geniuses combined with the laboratories of technology can reek havoc on an individual and in the extreme, the moral and personal destruction of society.
“Catfish” is a documentary made by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost based upon the electronic relationship Nev Schulman, Ariel’s devastating, handsome 24 year old brother, has with a artistically precocious 8 year old girl, Abby. The action takes place in less than a year; but the consequences, chiseled in the forefront of the consciousness of the parties involved, will linger until they cease to exist. This film should be seen by those with a modicum of computer literacy; primarily, those sophistically addicted, married, turbulently or benignly to their Internet relationships.
Simple subtleties morph into terrifying, pathetic realities. The Internet is immune to trust, there is no vaccination, antibiotic with the potency to alleviate the obfuscation and lies; sitting in front of that soulless screen, we are the masters of our own and others identity and fate.
You must wait for the conclusion to grasp the meaning of the title; brilliantly appropriate and a metaphor for the human condition, a redemption of sorts. These young men have produced a film that huddles in the confines of your mind; creeps into your dreams and no matter your age leaves you in a dissolute state of wonderment.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
This is an intelligent film: David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have created a monument, an icon of pop culture, encapsulating with wisdom and humor the social network that defines the world of all under fifty; the movie looks smart, Harvard and its luscious grounds glow with the seasons; but it is the mesmerizing performances, especially by Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, that push the film into the elitist stratosphere of greatness.
All have heard the expression “hell hath no fury like a “ woman” scorned; “The Social Network” commences with a scene between Mark and his girlfriend Erika (Rooney Mara). He is petulant, pejorative, and sabotages every prescient thought she expresses; resulting in the cauterization of the relationship. His vindictive, virulent retaliation sets the tone for his inscrutable behavior throughout the film. Mark is a patronizing genius; it is as if his mind sucked all the nourishment and nutrients from his soul and heart resulting in exhilarating intelligence but an amoral, vacuous existence. He has one genuine friend, the cofounder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin (a breathtaking, salient performance by Andrew Garfield) who he betrays; he plagiarizes and expands an idea presented to him by fellow Harvard students; he follows the charismatic Sean Parker, founder of Napster ( finely depicted by Justin Timberlake) to Silicon Valley . He is still in his twenties, has been sued and paid millions in damages, is the youngest billionaire in the world, and an enigma.
This is a film not about greed but about boundless, soaring ambition, gluttonous narcissism, and the perspicacity, the clairvoyance to understand the insatiable thirst, quest of twenty- first century youth for attachment, salvation from loneliness, connection to news, markets, politics; and friends. Mark Zuckerberg, portrayed in “The Social Network” molded the concept of Facebook and the theory of instant gratification, connectedness to those you actually know and to the countless faces you will “friend”. It is a modern miracle, a bible for its disciples; its tentacles of seduction eliminating the boundaries between age, race, gender or nationality.
We live in a time of “instant replay”, “talking heads” ; “spell check” murdered the dictionary; encyclopedias archaic, because of Google; head sets, Iphones, Blackberries, gift us information, communication with an added ease and efficiency to the twenty-four hour day. But leaving “The Social Network” and checking my Blackberry I was struck by a longing, lassitude, a hunger for silence, solitude, the erasure of society’s cacophony; lusting, yearning for the chimes of arcane feelings and unheard thoughts.