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Revenge of the Nerd Producer, Director and Writer? The Social Network: Nice Guys Don’t Win Ball Games, Girls Don’t Get to Play

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I have been scanning glowing reviews of the movie, The Social Network.

It was work for me not to bolt from the theater I was so repelled watching this movie.

It delivered initial promise. The opening scene between Erica, an engaging and smart young college women, enduring what fast becomes a last date with an arrested socially developed Mark, fingernails on a chalkboard arrogant. Once the movie decides not to follow the compelling Erica but reverently follow the irreverent (what Roger Ebert calls near-Asperger syndrome) boy genius and his craven amassing of power and money, I knew I was in for two or so hours of misogynistic masturbation. I was right. And no, I am not talking about the misogynistic masturbation of the wonderful actors in this movie portraying brittle amoral callow college men. I am talking about the creative masters of the universe who put this movie together. The ones who will be taking their bows undoubtedly on Oscar night. They are the ones indulging in misogynistic masturbation.

The movie is startlingly insensitive to its audience. It was put together by aging male hipsters to seduce callow young male and female hipsters, I would guess. Let’s get all those Facebook participant bucks? They are not only flaunting the petty political narcissism of the young men, they are proselytizing it in the guise of cynicism and satire. They show their hands at the very end as we are shown in writing on the screen that the nerdy “losers” have amassed stunning fortunes. In your face, America. In your Face-books! Gotta respect all that money, after all! Who’s the loser now, really? Wink, wink.

We in the audience are. Salt in the wounds of American citizens. Not cool. Show me a counter-culture, don’t ram more of the same culture down my throat without MORE CONTEXT FOR IT! We have been shorn by the ruthless leaders of our government and corporations. You moviemakers are there to once again remind us that power and competition are the way of the world, and of the new future world. A new generation of male apprentice movers and shakers. New male sociopathic apprentices being rewarded for business sociopathy. The masculine paradigm continues on with this generation. Though I think the movie makers think of these guys as “special” in terms of shaking up the patriarchal culture, being rare and their own breed. Grow up. They are the Harvard cultivated products of it!

Zuckerberg’s spurning girlfriend is revealed as a mere consumer of the great inventor’s genius at the end. Yes, he yearns to connect with her perhaps, wow, an entire two or so hours to be rewarded with that profoundly uncathartic revelation, but come on, boys, what are you really saying about the context of Erica and Mark? She’s eating his dust using his invention and he is atop the economic patriarchal mountain. Even in the skyscraper law firm a lowly female second year associate gets to remind Mark of his lousy behavior as a human being. Yeah, honey, and he can buy you and sell you so you can eat his dust, too. Wink, wink.

The presentation of women in this movie and the void of feminine values of partnership and cooperation, aside from Erica’s few minutes of emotional intelligence in the beginning and Eduardo’s sensitiveness as the one male at times coming close to a “humanist”. But he turns out “whipped” by an Asian ex-groupie woman and proves to have no broad savvy for business like the narcissists. Nice guys and ball games. They can’t win. And no girls in the game.

And framing the movie narrative using talking attorney heads around a law firm conference table amidst testimonies and depositions made me impatient. Maybe to illuminate the microscopic moments of emotion in a slick hollow movie? No, men, that’s not only the theme, the dehumanization of big time corporatism, that’s sadly your limiting creative firewall. And cynical cryptic dialogue does not satisfy when there is no message of moral reality. I felt I was sinking down into amoral quicksand as I watched.

The creative “geniuses” that made this movie have given us an anti-hero but I don’t think they really get that. I think he is their hero and that is the difference between a patriarchal culture, dog eat dog, and the counter culture of humanism that is not being promoted, sadly, in most movies. That is so marginalized it doesn’t ever make a background moment on the screen. America’s moral coma is not disturbed by this movie. A moral reality would have illuminated the tragic choices of these young men. But that is the crux of the matter. I don’t think they were tragic choices to the movie makers, at all. They were necessary choices in the patriarchal game of power. The only game in town, right boys?

Richard Corliss in his Time magazine commentary calls Mark Zuckerberg “post-human”. I think he says it with admiration. To me if he is post-human it is with tragic connotations for him and our future. Like Obama as a post-partisan president. Shallow, callow, lots of hipster style and pathetically little real substance.

Cynical showoff creators, yeah, I know you are deliberately illuminating their shallowness. And yet I hear the Seinfeld wording leaking through, "Not that there is anything wrong with that!" All that money and power, after all.

I would rather have watched a movie about ANY of the 500 million followers of Facebook than about its core of inventors.

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Edgeoforever's picture
Submitted by Edgeoforever on

Some good writing here, but I disagree.
The movie obviously fails the Bechtel test but it does so while making the very point.
It's the same reason I watch Mad Men - misogyny is not part of the film making, but the subject of it.
Alan Sorkin - no hipster him - even went on some blogs and made his intentions (and apologies) clear
So, yeah, watching Zuckenberg and his pals was nauseating, but the humiliation was not on me, it was on them. Did you watch THEIR reaction to the movie? not really flattered.

Edgeoforever's picture
Submitted by Edgeoforever on

Some good writing here, but I disagree.
The movie obviously fails the Bechtel test but it does so while making the very point.
It's the same reason I watch Mad Men - misogyny is not part of the film making, but the subject of it.
Alan Sorkin - no hipster him - even went on some blogs and made his intentions (and apologies) clear
So, yeah, watching Zuckenberg and his pals was nauseating, but the humiliation was not on me, it was on them. Did you watch THEIR reaction to the movie? not really flattered.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

btw, thanks for the Bechtel test. What a hoot and good point.

Anyway, re TSN, I don't want the creators' justification for a work of art to determine its worth for me. I want to directly respond to a work of art. And this one disturbed me, as I wrote. And God knows I looked and had trouble finding a negative review, so you are clearly in the majority. And my life philosophy and my temperament are my guides on this. Btw, Sorkin's justification does not really touch where I was going with this. I am not zeroing in on the misogyny of the characters in this movie. I am asking questions about the covert misogyny of the creators of it. It's misogynistic fantasy ride is devoid of serious context. My trust in the filmmakers was betrayed. My willing suspension of disbelief. Movies are emotional and powerful. Best vehicles for covert propaganda, too. And it is aimed at a hip young audience which makes these messages all the more dangerous.

A heavy elitist, patriarchal thumb was on the scale during this one imho, and when they flashed the money totals on the screen at the end it was THEIR teachable moment about the irony of success and American gamesmanship. And I felt a bit nauseous from that heavy-handedness and confusing point-making. Money doesn't bring happiness is what we are saying, but really, get a load of this success, hey, all you Americans drowning in your debt. And you women beneath the glass ceilings. Still there, sweeties. The way of the world and so it goes. The new breed of male entrepeneurs still the same sickening sociopathology as the old breed. But we are illuminating them as the new "youth"! BUNK.

To me the movie promoted some dark patriarchal anti-humanist messages as it at the same time took some pains to expose them. I felt "played" as a viewer. Creeped out as a woman and a humanist.

Sopranos and Mad Men, far more compelling than this movie to me, but also having some covert dark influence on America that imho is worth talking about and raising one's consciousness about. The authoritarian patriarchal personalities there compel and even inspire a dangerous identification and role modeling and actor to viewer cronyism that may be contributing to us as an anti-feeling society. Lovable sociopaths. So watchable. So forgivably human? More like so dangerously forgivably sub-human. And look at all those juicy awards bestowed upon them!

I used to like the Closer. Haven't seen in a while. Finally caught one and Brenda makes the decision to defy the law and set up a gang member who caused the death of his own brother, a soldier, to be killed by fellow gang members because she feels that law enforcement can't apply justice to the tragedy of the soldier so she does what she can. Say what? Promote extrajudicial murder? Hmmmm. Why, our prez is even doing that. Guess it is okay. NO, IT IS NOT!!!! The fact that the victim is a soldier is big part of her motivation. I sat watching with my jaw dropped. So that writer and those actors were promoting vigilantism on the tube. Role modeling it with their heroine. Few serious and effective heroines on the tube. So they take one and promote a hyper-masculinized anti-humanist arrogance. Agggghhhhhhhhhh.

Patriarchal culture. It is enforced by a lot of the media. Boys will be boys at the end. I felt a smugness in the very framing by the boys who arranged the true story of the story of the boys. And an obtuseness in their presentation. It was a slick, professional movie with a dangerous, limited sensibility. The acting was great.

imho!

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Winter's Bone. Written, produced and directed by women, too, from a novel by one of my favorite writers, Daniel Woodrell.

It's way too good for mainstream audiences, very intense and realistic, especially in depicting rural poverty. But the interesting thing is that even though the men appear to be running things, it's really the women who git 'er done. As I said, realistic!

Outstanding soundtrack, too -- Marideth Sisco gets my nomination for the Susan Boyle of the Ozarks!

adrena's picture
Submitted by adrena on

I definitely will not be seeing this movie. When I seek entertainment I prefer the kind that doesn’t piss me off. We are fortunate to have an art house movie theatre in my hometown - it offers great international indy films. Click on one for a brief synopsis.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

What a very cool schedule.

I often check out "metacritic" and The Social Network got a score of 95. I had never seen one that high and rushed out to see it, rather than the one I had intended. It is a polished, well acted movie. But it jarred me on an important level. My disappointment and my dismay at the blanket kudos drove me to write what I did above.

Glad you get international indy films. Characterization is not eclipsed by action! Audiences less spoon fed. Less predictability. Morality embraced. I need to stretch more and watch indy films. Thanks for inspiration.