x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Behind every successful social networker is ...

The Social Network lands criticism over its treatment of its female characters.

The Social Network's better half gets short shrift.
The Social Network's better half gets short shrift.

Amid the almost universal cries of adulation that have met The Social Network, the film about the nerdy Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, on its first week on general release in the US (it will not be released here until October 28), there has also been the odd mutter about its supposedly tenuous links to reality. Never mind that that wasn’t how it actually happened, say the critics (we can only assume that the real-life version of events wouldn’t have made nearly such a good film), it is a masterful piece of storytelling; one that perfectly defines the era.

A week on, though, and those half-hearted criticisms have been replaced by a rather bigger bugbear: the film’s treatment of women, which is, by all accounts not good, depicting them as brainless gold-diggers. Stephen Colbert (of the satirical chat show The Colbert Report) mentioned it in a recent interview with the film’s writer Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin reportedly explained: “It really doesn’t speak to the entire female population of Harvard – this is just the people who are populating this story.” The blogosphere, equally, is alight with indignation: “What is the state of things if a film that keeps women on the outer circles of male innovation enjoys such critical acclaim?” demanded Rebecca Davis O’Brien on The Daily Beast.

Sorkin’s comments on fellow writer Kevin Levine’s blog shed more light on the issue: “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 1980s.” We wonder if Zuckerberg would agree.