Facebook, the eternal time-waster that some believe it is, is all about making connections, right? So when there’s a movie about Facebook coming out — and it gets some early Oscar buzz — I figure it’s a good opportunity to make some connections between the movie and our area.
First off, the obvious: Facebook creator (or idea-stealer?) Mark Zuckerberg hails from Westchester, growing up in Dobbs Ferry. To hear The New Yorker describe it:
“Zuckerberg grew up in a hilltop house in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Attached to the basement is the dental office of his father, Edward Zuckerberg, known to his patients as ‘painless Dr. Z.’ ”
(Edward Zuckerberg was my dentist for a while, and I never once referred to him as ‘painless Dr. Z.’ Not that it was painful, it’s just that, well, no one really talks that way. But yes, the office is in the basement, and the house is on a hill.)
The Social Network, the movie based on an axe-to-grind book about Facebook’s controversial founding, pays homage to Zuckerberg’s Westchester upbringing. Behold, the trailer. If you stick with it until the 0:56 mark, you can clearly spot an Ardsley shirt:
Another interesting fact: Mark Zuckerberg didn’t graduate from Ardsley High School. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy. And, as we already established, he grew up in Dobbs Ferry, not Ardsley. So, unless he had an uncanny attachment to his middle school — and, really, no one likes middle school — he should be sporting a t-shirt that represents the 10522. But I can’t begrudge Hollywood not being able to tell Westchester’s river towns apart, except...
... Aaron Sorkin, the movie’s writer, is also one of our own. He grew up in Scarsdale, and graduated from Scarsdale High School. (Of course, he graduated in 1983 — one year before Mark Zuckerberg was born.) It’s interesting to think that Zuckerberg’s middle school alma mater and Sorkin’s alma mater were rivals of sorts. My problem with Sorkin, though, is that all of his characters talk like Sorkin characters: quippy, lightning-fast, and hyper-educated, be they doctors or sports casters or White House employees. Then again, that might not be such a problem in a movie about a bunch of Harvard brats. But let’s hope this time he’s able to distinguish the way the characters talk from one another.
Finally, a note about counter-programming: This isn’t the only movie about Facebook out there right now: Catfish, a Sundance hit, has no connections to our area that I can think of — other than reading after-the-fact in New York magazine that Nev, the film’s subject, dropped out of Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville. Regardless, I saw it, and it’s worth seeking out. But the trailer might give you some misconceptions. First off, it’s a real, honest-to-God documentary. Since the trailer was shown in front of mockumentary films like The Last Exorcism, I think some people got the impression that it is also a fake-doc. It is not. It is real. Secondly, it is not a horror film. There are some surprises, but they are not of the scary variety. I don’t know why the trailer makes it look like it is — I think it’s just to trick teens into buying tickets. Finally, it is not about catfish. To tell you what it’s actually about might ruin some of the aforementioned surprises, but it’s real and interesting and the people in it don’t talk like Sorkin characters. Take a look at the trailer here:
Catfish is playing now (try Cinema De Lux in White Plains if you can’t find it anywhere closer to you), and The Social Network opens on October 1.
Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.