A Peek at the New Score from Reznor & Ross

Thanks to Tracksounds, I found this atmospheric preview of new music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, created for David Fincher’s forthcoming film adaptation, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This is a little more Ghosts than Social Network, I’d say, and if you’re like me, that’s no complaint. I dug Ghosts and Social Network equally, but with different sparking coils of my damp brain.

This new track suggests that, whatever I think of the movie, I’ll be buying the film score. That was practically a given—Reznor and Ross are staples in my “writing atmosphere” playlists. If the film score has the cover of “Immigrant Song” by Karen O and Trent Reznor, from the film’s trailer, I’ll buy it even faster.

Update: I bought the Social Network soundtrack before the movie came out. I saw it coming into port, heard songs wafting in off its deck, through the stinging smoke of the sea, and went out to greet it at the dock. “What’s the word from abroad,” I asked, taking the rope and tying it off as the sailors replied, in unison. They opened their mouths and sound came out of it, warbling and wailing and scratching and beating. In place of tongues they had vibrating speakers. Woofers trembled in their guts.

I don’t really grok music as music but I sort of understand it as the manifestation of some kind of quasi-psychic energy that transmits through the vibrations of physical things (and electrons) that evoke emotion and attitude, that resonate emotionally, that transmute one mood into another. I can’t read music and I don’t speak the language but when I’m in the country of musicians I can applaud as loud as anyone.

Music is often an important part of my writing process. I build playlists that back the work I’m putting together, that rattle my damp coils and make my veins thrum at the right frequency for the right words. It augments the atmosphere.

I mean, yes, I can write in silence. I can also drink water. Sometimes what I want is to be quenched or washed but sometimes, dammit, I want flavor.

Anyway.

A Story of Facebook

The Social Network was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, so it was inevitable. I was going to see it. This is no review, though. This is just a musing question about the nature of dramaturgy and the responsibilities a dramatist has when storifying real peoples’ lives.

Look at The Social Network and you might see a lot of things. You’ll see traces of the truth and a story based on facts, but you’ll see wholly invented characters and a character arc made out of dramatic contraptions.

The brilliant author and Harvard professor, Lawrence Lessig, looks at The Social Network and sees a missed opportunity to make a dramatic argument about the powerful freedom of net neutrality.

Also at The New RepublicIsaac Chotiner argues that Sorkin’s attempt to turn history into dramaturgy is hypocritical, given Sorkin’s disapproval of the Internet’s many inaccuracies. (Sorkin is not a fan of the Internet.)

The Social Network doesn’t have fight scenes in it, per se, but thinking about it I’m reminded of the Bruce Lee biopic, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. That movie features big kung-fu action sequences meant to dramatize the conflicts and challenges in Lee’s actual life. The movie-Zuckerberg—Mark Zuckerberg the character—doesn’t fistfight Napster founder Sean Parker or anything, but the principle is still in effect in a movie like The Social Network. I mean, a person’s life doesn’t unfold in neat little scenes, much less form a cogent and satisfying dramatic arc. The Social Network isn’t a biopic of Mark Zuckerberg or of Facebook; it’s not about that.

The point of the movie is to get us thinking and talking about success, about genius, about invention, about this electronic thing that’s gotten involved in 500 million lives. It’s to tell us a story. That story is based on things that happened, but it is not what happened.

In the New York TimesDavid Carr writes about how The Social Network divides its audience generationally. I think the film is positioned such that it cuts across more than just a generational axis, but the point is sound. You’ll look at Zuckerberg’s success differently depending on your familiarity with and investment in the Internet, depending on what you’ve created and what you’ve lost, depending on what you’ve wanted and what you’ve achieved, depending on a lot of things.

That divide in the audience—whether it’s vertically, between political poles, or horizontally, between generations—is what Sorkin and Fincher were after, I’d wager. Sorkin has said, he wants us debating in the parking lot; he wants us seeing the story from more than one side. Can this story be told from another perspective, in which Zuckerberg is a wholly heroic creative genius who triumphs despite the drag put on him by a social network? Absolutely. That’s not this story, but The Social Network isn’t meant to be the last word in the conversation, it’s meant to start a conversation.