Did you know there are more people with genius I.Q.’s living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States? How do you distinguish yourself in a population of people who all got 1600 on their SAT’s?
The Social Network (2010, David Fincher) and Whiplash (2014, Damien Chazelle) are two complementary and parallel films. Two young people with the need to stand out, to emerge in a world where not being the first or the best seems to equate to not being anyone.
On one hand, there is the computer science department at Harvard, where the authority of scholars and the prestige of seventeenth-century architecture are contrasted with a social life dominated by the most exclusive clubs, which, in addition to imposing humiliating initiation tests, sanction the primacy of fame and success at any cost. On the other hand, we find the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York City and the band of the despotic teacher Terence Fletcher, a micro world where perfection is inevitably a prerequisite for survival.
Thus, Mark and Andrew share a similar life in different worlds. Whether it’s computers or jazz drums, the background is a unique frenzied rhythm of keyboards and drum sticks to become the future Bill Gates and Buddy Rich. But, at what cost?
To find out we have to look into the labyrinth of these dream worlds, which is revealed in their relationships with their respective girlfriends. Two pubs, one scene: the “genius” with a distracted gaze, a prisoner of himself, who merely recites the monologue of his superiority, ends up hurting and distancing the other person.
In the succession of plots, we witness a metamorphosis that corrodes relationships and that blinds, because it prevents one from so much loving, from seeing the value of the other, when this is not moved by the same hunger for excellence, as to be loved, because ultimately the two cannot even know and appreciate themselves, convinced that they are filling their emptiness only through further self-improvement.
Because I’m just some girl who doesn’t know what she wants. And you are going to be great, and I’m going to be forgotten, and you won’t be able to give me the time of day because you have bigger things to pursue. -That’s exactly my point.
In this way, three elements take shape and become more and more characteristic.
First, the harshness of the external events in these two lives emphasizes two aspects of life: the physical resulting from a car accident while rushing to arrive for the competition of a life-time (literally and otherwise), and the emotional one of ending up face-to-face in court with the old best friend for having deceived him out of the project undertaken together.
Then there is the coveted and unquestioned glory, that is to say, the ability to place oneself definitively at the center of attention, beating the competition. Seeking everyone’s envious admiration.
Finally, perhaps the most interesting outcome. With the curtain down and the screens turned off, what remains are an emptiness and a silence that overturn the sense of superiority, showing two myths intent on begging for a bit of true attention, on a par, the same one to which they had naively turned their backs.
Therefore, an effective message: no one is sufficient to himself and even the clearest success and the most thunderous applause do not fill the human heart, because if talents are given to be multiplied in intense work, they are also to be shared, without breaking a person, or disfiguring his ability to give himself to others. Which, beyond history, is what really remains.
Translation: Jhoanna Climacosa