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Monday, October 11, 2010

Is The Social Network Sexist? Aaron Sorkin Doesn't Think So...

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Oh sure, sweetheart, I could tell you about this idea I have for a new website. But lets face it, you probably wouldnt understand.
  • "Oh sure, sweetheart, I could tell you about this idea I have for a new website. But let's face it, you probably wouldn't understand."

... but then, Sorkin also kind of avoids a few of the big criticisms that've been lobbed at The Social Network. Sorkin's defense is here; here's a chunk of it:

I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group of people. These aren't the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the 80's. They're very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren't women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them.)

Interesting—though as explanations go, it's not exactly thorough. FilmDrunk's Vince Mancini's response to Sorkin's statement is right on—he highlights a few important flaws in Sorkin's response, and he also points out two things that're relevant to any discussion of The Social Network's sexism:

Not every movie has to be everything to everyone, and the more they try, the more they’re usually going to suck.

And:

[The Social Network] never pretended to be anything but an EXTREMELY HEIGHTENED version of reality, and even cleverly gave itself permission to do so by making most of the action subjective flashback.

Go here for the rest of that.

I'm a bit embarrassed to note that it didn't even occur to me that The Social Network might be sexist until reading that Jezebel piece, and I didn't read that until I'd seen the movie twice already. (I like to think of myself as being at least somewhat enlightened, but realistically, my obliviousness to all this probably means I'm an ignorant jackass.) While I'm not sure I buy the accusations that the film is flat-out misogynistic—I think both Rooney Mara and Rashida Jones' characters are pretty great, not to mention really pretty*—the fact that Zuckerberg's longtime girlfriend was written out of the story is kinda sketch.

But a lot of things about the film are kinda sketch. While it's easy—and not particularly unfair—to say "Of course shit was fabricated and changed, it's a movie," it's also interesting to look at what Sorkin and Fincher changed, and to ask why they did so. Doing that doesn't The Social Network any less phenomenal, and it's definitely worth thinking about.

*JOKE.

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