Friday, March 18, 2011

Glorification of bad behavior

Lat night, I watched the movie Social Network. I almost turned it off after the first few minutes, as the main character, Mark Zuckerberg, is portrayed as such a callous narcissist that I could barely watch him. I hung in there, fascinated and horrified at the story unfolding before me, barely a likeable character among them, except the girl who bookends the story. And when I'd finished and learned that Facebook is a 25-billion-dollar company (for what?) and thought about the fact that this was a Best Picture nominee (for what?) and thought about the glorification of insensitivity and callousness and narcissicism, I just felt so discouraged.

It's a sad story to me that the "hero" of the film, whose life is worthy of a big-budget bio-pic, is someone who is brilliant and who cheats others and doesn't care whom he hurts. Are integrity and kindness and some amount of decorum so old-fashioned? And I wonder if this is how my parents felt about my generation, though as I remember us in our youth, we had social ideals of improving life for the poor and it wasn't all about making piles of money, disrespectful of tradition as we may have been. I want very much to blame this on the Reagan years, when rugged individualism became about "me" getting rich.

The party scenes didn't disturb me. I partied like that some and I find that kind of thing rather boring now. It may be more excessive and less personal today, the drugs harder, the sex more public, but lust is lust and addiction is well what fuels most of that and I have my own stories there.

The one really interesting character for me was the ethical brother of the twins, the guy who believed in being a gentleman, who believed that going to Harvard was an important privilege and that you play by the rules. He's made out to be a ninny by his brother and their friend and his ethics are scoffed at even by the president of the university, one of the most discouraging characters of all. 

I don't often feel morally righteous, and I sure don't like that feeling, but that's what I was left with.

1 comment:

sorella said...

Dear Jill,

I had a different reaction to "The Social Network." For me, it was a well-told morality tale, about an immature, book-smart young man and the negative consequences he suffered for making the decisions he did. Far from glorifying his behavior, I felt the film showed just how much he lost, even though he became a millionaire. Also, he seemed driven by the need to be the "cool" kid as much as the desire to make money; and he exhibited that strange empowerment that geeks get from proving how smart they are to the world, as if that will make up for all of their appalling social behavior. A fascinating character study, which apparently takes some liberty with the facts, in the tradition of films like "JFK."

I'd be happy to continue this "Siskel and Ebert" moment over tea. :-)