Friday, March 11, 2011

The Social Network

Due to circumstances beyond my control (a long plane ride), I watched "The Social Network". I didn't really want to watch it, but also sort of did, kind of like a train wreck. I also wanted to see sudo*-Matt Welsh's cameo teaching Operating Systems.

I was pleased that Hollywood got some of the technobabble correct (apache with a SQL backend), and I loved that the closeup of Mark's laptop showed it running *nix. I also thought it was cute they re-branded the iBook laptop as "Book".  

However, I was greatly displeased with how the film portrayed women. By my count, there was only one female character who was not: a flake, a flirt, a drunk, a girlfriend, or crazy - and she was a lawyer with hardly any personality depth. Why were there no female engineers, or CS majors? Or, heck, I'd even take an Art History major. Just somebody with some brains to accompany the legs.

I was also displeased with how Mark Zuckerberg was portrayed. I don't know the real Mark, but the director seemed really dedicated to employing the geek-with-zero-social-interaction-skills trope. Couldn't the actor have smiled occasionally? Been somewhat friendly now and then?

So, Hollywood, your scorecard is: B+ for suspending my geek disbelief, but an F for perpetuating stereotypes.

(*) Pun intended! 


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt uncomfortable with the portrayal of women in the film. I thought it made CS look like a terrible place for women, but I haven't seen anyone else in CS comment on it.

  2. Matt Welsh, not Matt Might!

  3. Whoops! Thanks for catching my semantic slip. Fixed.

  4. I saw the movie when it came out, so it's been a while. At that time, I actually read several places people complaining that it presented women in a purely decorative role, and I think I even read that the director basically said that it was entirely intentional and that he wanted to showcase a deeply misogynistic group of people. I cannot remember where I read these comments, it's been a while now, maybe a review in Time magazine or so, maybe some blogs (I am too lazy to look now, maybe later). Bottom line is that some people have noticed the same thing at FCS, and I agree it's sad there is no female with any depth, but it's not like there is much depth to any male characters either. They are all pretty 1D. Apparently, a whole bunch of details are incorrect about Zuckerberg too -- he commented that they got right every shirt he wore in that period (apparently the wardrobe was critical to get right?!)but the rationale behind Facebook was completely misrepresented (like pining for a girl, wanting to be admitted to a Sculls and Bones type club etc.) It's just Hollywood. It's not like you can really trust them to portray anything realistically or with much depth, because they fear anything that's not entirely black and white (such as a person you want to play a jerk actually smiling or perhaps even having devoted coworkers or some friends) will not sit well with the masses who are supposedly incapable of processing grey. *eyeroll*

  5. Ironically, the movie is 100% accurate in all the important things, as otherwise they would get sued by MZ. This is why every important part in the movie is taken comes from a legal deposition.