So in preparation for the Oscars I’m trying to cram in all the movies that I’ve wanted to see all year but are now just finally getting to. I finally saw Black Swan but because of all the “mystery” surrounding what it was really about … I ended up totally over thinking it. I will say though that Natalie Portman did an amazing job.
Then I watched Social Network. For those of you who don’t know I’m a former West Wing fanatic. I can wax poetic for hours on the brilliance of Aaron Sorkin. I was so excited to “hear” him again in the writing and in truth he didn’t disappoint. SN sounds like the Aaron I know. Nobody does “brilliant” like he does.
But here was my problem with the movie. I didn’t like the protagonist. And sadly that’s a pretty big downside. I get that in this version of the telling of the story we’re probably not supposed to like Zuckerberg, but it still stopped me from falling in love with the movie.
I can think of so many times where an editor has commented… I just didn’t feel for the heroine or hero. I didn’t like them. This used to frustrate me… but I do get it.
Now it might make people (writers) think that all heroes or heroines have to ultimately be “nice” or else the audience won’t like them. But we know that’s not true. I just read a book where the heroine is very nice. Super nice. Pleasing in all ways. Any person would want to know this very nice person. I couldn’t stand her as a character. Nice isn’t what it’s about.
With Zuckerberg (movie version) I didn't have a problem with him not being nice. But I was looking for something more than a spoiled genius, left out of the cool kid club, who was condescending and rude to everyone around him. One moment of real friendship or a truly sincere gesture from him to anyone and that might have helped.
Ultimately I couldn’t root for him. In truth I didn’t really root for anyone in this movie… except maybe the roommate a little and the ex-girlfriend. Who delivered the best line of the movie in my opinion.
We, the audience, need to “like” the protagonist. We need to empathize, sympathize, appreciate… whatever. We need to get them. Whether they be nice or (as Eileen would say) they be asshats we need to see the story from their prospective so that we’re connected.
At least I do. HBO shows excel at this. Omar – the Robin Hood of Drug dealers from the Wire. Niki – the bitchy spoiled 2nd wife from Big Love who can also fix a washing machine and hang shingles on a roof. The FBI guy from Boardwalk Empire… (forgot his name.) Who is crazy and insane but so damn passionate about his work. The Widow Schroeder who knows her boyfriend had her husband killed and seems okay with that even though we also see her as a loving and kind mother.
Anybody else you wanted to love but ended up hating? Wanted to hate but ended up loving?