Saturday, October 02, 2010

Facebook Showdown



As someone who writes about gender and technology, of course I had to be in the audience for the film The Social Network this weekend.

Luckily the movie was a little more sophisticated than the overly simple explanation in the plot line in which Mark Zuckerberg launches his famous Internet start-up to impress a girl who dumps him and to compensate for not being part of the final club scene at Harvard.

There were certain hackneyed generalizations about dystopia (social network sites being addictive) and utopia (the ecstasy of real-time experience bridging two countries) in the film. And women tended to be the prototypical users of software (a Stanford girl, an Oxford girl, etc.) while men are depicted as its creators. Also annoying were the "Eureka" moments on screen: our hero invents relationship status and the Facebook wall as we watch.

In general, the gender politics depended too much on clich├ęs about women abused by distant men who could exploit their anonymity and indulge in the voyeuristic desire to surveil.

Fortunately, Justin Timberlake was there to steal the show as the co-founder of Napster and to define the parameters of Silicon Valley/South of Market cool. And the premise of presenting the story essentially as a courtroom drama (okay, a deposition drama) was somewhat interesting.

I just wish that all the onscreen action about Facebook lawyering could have been about the company's user agreements not the contract disputes between the many alleged founders of the site.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Synthetic Zero said...

I agree with your take on the film in every particular, Liz. I have to admit I was tickled that Sorkin decided to include such nerdy details as using wget to get images, etc.; gave it some techy cred. On the other hand, I found not only the depiction of women (as sex objects and/or sources of frustration) rather one-dimensional, but also the fact that they portrayed the girlfriends as these exotic Asian trophy creatures when in fact Harvard is 1/5th Asian (exacerbated by the death of Asian extras in the background --- a computer science class without a single East Asian student?) The idea that Zuckerberg would have been fueled also by a desire to become a member of a final club also seemed rather farfetched to me; from what I've read of interviews with both Zuckerberg and friends of his from the time, he actually had no interest in final clubs at all (however, had I known they had Wellesley girls doing strip teases at their parties it might have made me rethink my general disinterest in them...)

11:19 AM  

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