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“The Social Network” by David Fincher Essay

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Updated: Feb 17th, 2022

The role of social media has reached a truly enormous scale over the past few years, affecting people’s lives vastly. “The Social Network,” a movie directed by David Fincher, studies the role of modern media in contemporary society in depth. Specifically, the scene in which Larry Summers talks to the Winklevoss twins outlines masterfully the drastic change that the social network has brought to people’s lives.

By incorporating multiple visuals that hint at the presence of a larger theme in the conflict between Larry Summers and the Winklevoss twins, Fincher hints at the vast possibilities that innovative technology offers. The use of the said visuals for emphasizing the dichotomy of innovation and archaism is the first device that catches the viewer’s eye when examining the scene closer. The aesthetic elements used in the movie, namely, the interior of the room in which the conversation takes place, emphasize the old-fashioned approach that Summers supports regarding the understanding of communication and the role that social media may potentially play in it. The levels of subtlety in the use of exterior details drop as the scene continues, exacerbating the impression of Summers’ unwillingness to embrace change. One of the twins breaking the doorknob hammers the specified point down, symbolizing the old, downtrodden way of thinking that Harvard authorities accepted.

Similarly, the narrative elements of the scene also indicate that the role of social media in people’s lives is about to change, yet a range of people are not ready yet to accept this change and include its outcomes into their lives. Namely, Summers’ condescending tone contrasting with the twins’ anxious and almost stuttering demeanor points to the seriousness of the breakthrough and the challenges that the innovation is about to face when being implemented.

Finally, the formal aspects of the scene in question give several hints concerning the main theme of the movie, namely, the increasingly high importance that social media is about to gain in people’s lives. For instance, the composition of the scene, namely, the physical juxtaposition of Larry Summers and the Winklevoss twins, emphasizes the rift between the unwillingness to embrace the change and the oncoming surge of technological innovations, namely, opportunities for online communication, that social media is about to bring.

The lighting, in turn, plays a minor role in outlining the tension building due to the lack of understanding between Summers and the Winklevoss twins. For instance, while the view from the window indicates that the conversation takes place in broad daylight, the room appears to be dimly lit, with the faces of the twins and Summers often being partly covered by a shadow. The specified approach to lighting may be interpreted as a subtle metaphor of the old communication tools represented by the artificial light slowly becoming obsolete, while the innovative social media symbolized by the sunlight breaking through the window is about to gain traction. The color scheme of the movie, reminding of that of an old library, is also indicative of the change that social media is about to bring, thus bringing the traditional communication tools to their slow demise.

By using formal, visual, and narrative elements in a very clever way that allows hinting at the ample opportunities to be offered by social media, Fincher manages to convey the theme of change and emphasize the huge role that the said social media is about to gain in society. While some of the hints may pass unnoticed, others are quite easy to spot, signifying the tremendous change that is expected to happen. Therefore, the clever combination of narrative, visual, and formal elements of a scene introduces the viewers to the history of social media changing the global communication landscape.

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IvyPanda. (2022, February 17). “The Social Network” by David Fincher. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-social-network-by-david-fincher/

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1. IvyPanda. "“The Social Network” by David Fincher." February 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-social-network-by-david-fincher/.


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IvyPanda. "“The Social Network” by David Fincher." February 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-social-network-by-david-fincher/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "“The Social Network” by David Fincher." February 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-social-network-by-david-fincher/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) '“The Social Network” by David Fincher'. 17 February.

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