[notice]This editorial was written by a British 15 year-old named Michael Dalton living in Switzerland. [/notice]
When The Social Network won every critic award in sight many, including me believed that this love would continue right up to the Oscars. The Social Network was the ‚ÄúZeitgeist‚Äù film, it supposedly captured us today, it was the film that the Oscars would want to reward in order to maintain their image as a respectable awards body following wins for The Hurt Locker and Slumdog Millionaire. However as we approach the ceremony this Sunday, a drastic U-turn has occurred and it is The King‚Äôs Speech, which is expected to perform a King‚Äôs Sweep. Really we should have all seen it coming, yes The Social Network is fantastically written, brilliantly directed by David Fincher and features, in my opinion, the most complex performance of the year in the shape of Jesse Eisenberg, however it just wasn‚Äôt an Oscars film. The film’s tagline reads ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt get to 500 million friends, without making a few enemies.‚Äù Well it seems that tagline was almost prophetic of its Oscar chances, you don‚Äôt win 5 Oscars, by making a few enemies.
In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg is called a ‚Äúdick” and an ‚Äúasshole‚Äù he is accused of intellectual property theft, sexism and betrayed his best friend. He isn‚Äôt exactly a Forrest Gump or a Jamal Malik now is he? In a year where Mark Zuckerberg was named Time magazine’s most influential person of 2010, where Facebook was cited as playing a key part in revolutions in Egypt and where ironically the Royal Family joined the Facebook phenomenon, the Academy is not going to reward a film that offers a character study of the world’s youngest billionaire and records the creation of the most important social networking site of our time. Facebook is a website that ‚Äúbrings us all together.‚Äù It is something that makes everybody connect; yet the Academy are not connecting with its cinematic counterpart. The Social Network you see, is not a film about people connecting, it‚Äôs a film about people disconnecting, it‚Äôs a film that starts with a man getting dumped, then finishes with this man sitting alone in a room with only his computer to accompany him. The film is an ironic statement on how the creation of such a website, resulted in the exact opposite of what the website does to those who created it. It‚Äôs a dark film, a film that doesn‚Äôt end on a moment of triumph and a film that is not about the triumph of the human spirit.
In the film, Mark Zuckerberg is driven by an obsession to join a final club. Think of a final club like the Oscars. Prestigious, acceptance, and recognition by your peers ‚Äúa better life.‚Äù The closest Zuckerberg comes to this? The bike room. He is let into the building but only because they want something from him, they don‚Äôt need him, they don‚Äôt want him and ultimately he proves that he does not need them either. For all Social Network fans angry about how the race is looking must remember one thing. Fincher does not need Oscar recognition and neither does The Social Network. Think of your favourite films of all time, then look at how many of those are Oscar winners. The fascination with the Oscars is born not out of what films they award but why they award them and their upcoming dismissal of The Social Network is one of the most telling decisions in the organization’s history. Ultimately The Social Network and its protagonist are too cold and too dark. When was the last time that a lead character in an Oscar winning film delivered such a split emotional reaction as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network? The academy doesn‚Äôt award complexity, darkness and irony. Well they did with The Godfather and The Godfather Part II and arguably The Hurt Locker, The Departed and No Country. The fact of the matter is that this Oscar race is a wake up call to what the awards really stand for‚Ä¶nothing. They get it wrong more than they get it right‚Ä¶FACT. In the past decade we have been spoilt by Oscar winners that don‚Äôt fit the usual Oscar clich√©. This led many to think we were seeing the rebirth of the Oscars, could we finally respect their decisions? If The Social Network, Inception or Black Swan wins then yes, the Oscars will have turned a new leaf. If The King‚Äôs Speech or The Fighter wins then no, the Oscars are the Oscars.
Mark Zuckerberg is a man who raged against the establishment for not accepting him, a man who didn‚Äôt need anybody else to create his website, a man who was driven by his goal of success, so much so that he lets his girlfriend and best friend fall by the wayside. A self-made billionaire. Contrast this to Jamal Malik, self made millionaire, he went through it all out of love, he got through it by what life taught him, that is the underdog success story that wins Oscars.
Now is King George a Mark Zuckerberg or a Jamal Malik? There is no denying it, to win an Oscar you have to be one thing‚Ä¶likable. For a film based on a website that has practically copyrighted the term, the academy don‚Äôt ‚Äúlike‚Äù Zuckerberg, they don‚Äôt ‚Äúlike‚Äù The Social Network.
Two pieces of technology are at the center of how Zuckerberg and Bertie were able to express themselves. The Computer and the Radio. Today our messages our on computer screens, the personal touch is gone, it‚Äôs calculated, it‚Äôs unemotional. Yet with the radio we hear the voice, we hear the personality, we hear the emotion. The King‚Äôs Speech resonates with the academy voters more than The Social Network because it is the movie they ‚Äúhear‚Äù not just a movie they ‚Äúsee‚Äù
The Oscars have their king, they have their movie and it isn‚Äôt Mark Zuckerberg and The Social Network. When that king and that movie comes around it will always prevail against the critic‚Äôs choice. It‚Äôs ok to love The King‚Äôs Speech, its ok to hate The Social Network and its ok to love them both. It isn‚Äôt ok for the academy members to embrace a character and a film that they don‚Äôt feel. I scoffed at it at the start but as we reach the end we must all admit it, the Oscars are a popularity contest and an emotion contest. They are the movie equivalent of the X Factor, be the scrappy underdog with the likable personality. As a character says to Zuckerberg at the end of the movie ‚ÄúYou would lose your jury in the first five minutes‚Äù well he probably did lose the academy jury in the first five minutes of The Social Network.
Enjoy the bike room because the final club that is the Academy Awards will never let a Mark Zuckerberg any further than that.