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Maddie Landon Dr. Dietel-McLaughlin WR 13300- Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric 28 February 2014 The Social Network on Success In a Changing World

In The Rhetorical Situation, Lloyd F. Bitzer, an associate professor of speech at the University of Wisconsin, argues, a particular discourse comes into existence because of some specific condition or situation which invites utterance (4). The Social Network did just that. It came at a time when social media surged into the lives of teenagers and young adults, when social websites became not only a useful tool for communication and connecting with people from around the world, but also a powerful and consuming presence of everyday life. This movie was a response to the complete technological shift in society: from face-to-face conversations to email exchanges, from meeting people at parties to meeting people via internet, from real friends to virtual friends. The film was called into existence because of the viral phenomenon that caused a technologically connected world and arguably started todays social media-dependent society: Facebook. The Social Network tells the story of the founding of Facebook, the social media catalyst that set off the spiral into constant digital contact. It begins with a young Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook, at Harvard, and documents his journey with Facebook from the initial idea, through the coding of The Facebook and the start of a young, struggling company, until the websites overwhelming success. Intertwined with the beginning of Facebook are the lawsuits that Mark goes through from the Winklevoss twins and his former best friend and business partner, Eduardo Saverin. Through flashbacks from the lawsuits to the start of Facebook, the audience is exposed to Mark Zuckerbergs reasons for starting it and the forces that influenced

Landon 2 his social rise and consequential personal downfall. This gripping and revealing story captures not only the motives behind Zuckerbergs invention, but the effect that invention had on college students, and eventually the entire world. The Social Network reveals truths about life in the constantly plugged-in millennial generation. Out of the many themes addressed in this movie friendship, gender equality, the social impact of technologythe one that I will be discussing in this analysis is success. The common and most immediate conception of success involves money. Yet, this movie addresses success from all angles, not just by monetary standards, especially since the technological takeover of society has changed the perception of success a great deal. In a technological world that is constantly plugged-in and sharing and spreading news, success can be measured by fame, power, influence and many other factors. The Social Network explores different meanings of what it truly means to be successful in a world of technological prominence through the rhetorical devices of character development and flashbacks. Character development occurs through many different modes: costume, dialogue, characters background, way the character speaks, the music surrounding that character, and many other elements. In this film, deliberate characterization choices are used to convey that particular characters ideas of what success means to them in a subtle, unobtrusive way, to the point that the audience is unaware that they are being communicated this message. The character never comes right out and explains what they consider to be success, but rather suggests their idea of success through their characteristics. As the protagonist of the film, Jesse Eisenbergs development of the Mark Zuckerberg character is especially crucial to the understanding of success. The audience gets told multiple times of Marks obvious disinterest toward money through his physical appearance and his

Landon 3 actions. Causal hoodies, shorts, and sandals seem to be his go-to clothing. He rarely wears anything nicer than that, except for in the court hearings, and even then he does not dress in flashy, fashionable, or expensive things. Even after Facebook has made Mark extremely wealthy, he still chooses not to flash his money by signs of expensive clothing. Mark, when asks why de did not sell his computer application to Microsoft for a large sum of money, indifferently shrugs, proving his perception of success has nothing to do with the size of his wallet. Marks personal view of success is popularity and approval by his peers, specifically his ex-girlfriend Erica. In the beginning scene, Mark fervently and relentlessly talks about the importance of getting into the exclusive Final Clubs. When he starts Facebook, the main aspect attracting him to this idea was the exclusivity of it. To Mark, he would be the host of the party with the ability to include or exclude whoever he wants, instead of the other way around. Mark especially craves approval from Erica. When Mark encounters Erica with her friends in the restaurant, he immediately brings up his creation of Facebook, obviously trying to impress her, yet failing since she had not heard of it. He suddenly becomes determined to expand to new schools and spread the word about Facebook, insisting on getting a story in the Boston University paper (conveniently Ericas school). Even though Mark would never openly admit to his desire for acceptance from his peers, the movie clearly portrays his longing for popularity and recognition through his actions and dialogue. Sean Parker represents a whole different definition of success addressed in this film, this definition being much more relevant to the idea of success in this new age of technology. The character development of Sean Parker is all about flash. He dresses in fashionable clothes that are nice, but not too business-like to keep his demeanor seem cool and in control. When he walks onto the screen, everything and everyone is aimed toward him: he dominates a room he enters,

Landon 4 acting like he owns the place. The filmmakers communicate Seans dominance and charisma through music and framing. When Sean walks into the restaurant to meet with Mark and Eduardo for the first time, sly, smooth music score marks his entrance and continues to play in the background of his spiel. This scene places three characters, Mark, Eduardo, and Eduardos girlfriend Christy, on one side of the table while Sean gets the other side to himself. By depicting Sean by himself in the frame, taking up the whole screen and being the only character in his shots, and having the other characters share the frame, the audience inherently gets a sense of Seans big shot persona. To Sean, success is all about image and notability. He wants to be known and admired. Sure, he cares about money; for example, in the club scene, he uses the possibility of the company growing into being worth millions to persuade Mark, providing the audience with a sense that money is much more important to Sean than it is to Mark. Yet, we can also tell he is not in it for the money since he casually and without bitterness or anger tells the Stanford girl that he slept with that he is bankrupt. Sean considers success to be establishing image and respect. For example, Sean persuades Mark to go late into a meeting in a bathrobe with a company that had fired Sean and tell them off. This exemplifies Seans desire for respect. At the end of the day, he would rather maintain the credit and image of a successful and thriving businessman with style and flare, than have millions of dollars. While Sean focuses on building his image, Eduardo genuinely cares about Mark and believes in his idea, while also hoping to impress his father with a successful business venture. Eduardo is not in it for the money either: the filmmakers deliberately leave out how much money Eduardo gets in the settlement at the end. This choice causes Eduardos character to be less related to a large settlement fee, and more about the loss of a good friend. Throughout the plot, Eduardo is the financial side of Facebook, yet he does not seem too invested in making millions

Landon 5 of dollars. Instead, he just wants to find investors in order to spread Facebook farther. He seems like his only motive is simply because he is a supportive friend who wants to help Mark, but when Mark first launches the site and Eduardo sees his name in the masthead, Eduardo says, You have no idea what thats going to mean to my father. This is the first of only a couple indications the audience gets to Eduardos underlying reason for being involved in Facebook, and more than that, his idea of success: making his dad proud. Though the movie hardly mentions Eduardos desire to gain the approval of his father, that one bit of dialogue opens up a new dimension of Eduardos family background that the audience can infer drives his motivation for funding the start of Facebook. In the settlement agreement, other than the money, Eduardo also gets his name back on the masthead as one of the founders of Facebook. The inclusion of this detail and the exclusion of the amount of money he receives acts as a rhetorical feature to persuade the audience that restoring his association with Facebook was Eduardos main aim in the lawsuit against Mark. He strives to be recognized as a serious businessman by his father. While character development establishes each individual characters notions of success, the flashbacks help communicate the precise definition of success the movie wants the audience to walk away with. James A. Herrick highlights the importance of arrangement in his explanation of what rhetoric is (8). The filmmakers deliberately arrange the movie in a way that best communicates their arguments and most effectively delivers the story to the audience. The flashbacks create a stark and immediate contrast between each character before and after Facebooks success. For example, in one scene, Mark is discussing with Eduardo and the few other people involved with Facebook his desire to expand to Yale, Columbia, and Stanford. The film cuts to the next scene, which takes place at the court hearing, where Mark is checking in on how Facebook is doing in Bosnia. These scenes side-by-side effectively acquaint the audience

Landon 6 with just how much Facebook has grown and provides them with a visual context in which they can easily contrast the characters from their former selves to their present selves, especially Mark. In The Rhetoric of the Frame, media scholar Judith Lancioni explores how visual rhetoric assists in understanding the meaning of a text by attending to the specific properties of visual images and their processing by viewers (106). In other words, in order to understand why the audience gains a certain meaning of success from this film, we must analyze how visual rhetoric, such as flashbacks, translates those meanings of success to the viewers. The flashbacks assist the audience in ruling out money as the overall measure of success. In the court hearings, Mark is the youngest billionaire in the world. Yet he has not changed much: he still dresses casually and he still talks in the same blunt, arrogant, socially impaired way he always did. Gaining a huge fortune obviously did not influence his life style all that much, and he does not seem to care that he has to pay a huge sum of money to Eduardo and the Winklevoss twins. Mark does not seem any happier as the youngest billionaire in the world than he did as a struggling student trying to start a new website. Through flashbacks, the movie effectively conveys the insignificance of money when it comes to success. The flashbacks also clearly contrast Mark and Eduardos friendship before Facebook versus their feud in the court hearings. For example, one of the first scenes shows Eduardo and Mark in a conference room full of lawyers as they explore the story of Facebook from start to finish. In that sequence, Eduardo is hostile and bitter. The flashback transports us to the night Erica breaks up with Mark and Eduardo rushes into Marks dorm room to make sure he is okay. Instead of gradually revealing the events in order that led up to Eduardo suing Mark, the filmmakers deliberately chose to dive the audience right into the lawsuit, and then slowly reveal the reason for it through flashback. If the film had been in chronological order, the change in

Landon 7 their relationship would not resonate as powerfully in the audience and not have the same shock value. In this way, the film intentionally highlights the importance of friendship. In the last scene, Mark is sitting on his computer refreshing Facebook on his ex-girlfriends wall, looking absolutely miserable as the words on the screen announce that he is the youngest billionaire in the world. The audience, without needing the film to specifically say the message, understands what the message is: what good is success if you have no one to share it with? Thus, through the special insight flashback provides us with, we conclude that the film invites us to subscribe to a definition that privileges friendship over mere financial gain. Just as Bitzer claims that a rhetorical situation invites a fitting response, so The Social Network provided that response. However, The Social Network is not just a documentary on how Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook. In fact, it is a persuasive narrative full of rhetorical devices that reveals how life has changed since social websites became a dominant force in normal life. It does not just show what happens, but manipulates the story into an argument to send a message about success and friendship. Through character development, the film diverges each characters idea of success and utilizes the tool of flashback to effectively portray how we, as a generation, should think about success.

Landon 8 Works Cited Bitzer, Lloyd F. The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy and Rhetoric. Vol. 1.: Penn State UP, 1968. Print. Herrick, James A. "An Overview of Rhetoric." The History and Theory of Rhetoric. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Beacon, 2001. 1-28. Print. Lancioni, Judith. The Rhetoric of the Frame: Revisioning Archival Photographs in The Civil War. Vol. 60.: Western Journal of Communication, 1996. Print. The Social Network. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Rooney Mara. Columbia Pictures, 2010. Film.