The Social Network's Treatment of Women, Winterbottom's Kercher Murder Mystery to Star Firth

by Sophia Savage
October 4, 2010 6:28 AM
8 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

-It's no surprise that David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's The Social Network is getting Oscar-buzz, zeitgeist hype and debates about what is fact and fiction. Now the role of women in the film is kicking up controversy. The Daily Beast's Rebecca Davis O'Brien argues that the femme roles are props in a film that "not only reflects its era, but will shape it." Stephen Colbert declares that there are no women of substance in the movie except for the small roles of lawyer Rashida Jones and Zuckerberg's scorning girlfriend Rooney Mara. The women in the movie are seen as liabilities, writes Jezebel, if not woefully disrespected.

"Complaining about misogyny in modern blockbuster cinema," writes O'Brien, "is about as productive as lamenting Facebook’s grip on our society." But she wishes the "defining" story for our generation wasn't such a blatant slap in the face to women. "From the girls trucked into the Phoenix Club in the film’s opening scenes to the groupies giggling about their inability to play videogames, it seemed that the film set girls up as some joke on the state of womankind. Maybe the joke was on me?"

This debate has spread all over Facebook and Twitter. Mara does make a mark as a smart, strong woman, even with a tiny amount of screen time. But Jones' role seems designed to reflect some humanity back on Jesse Eisenberg's Zuckerberg. While the movie is centered on the men who created Facebook, we can expect more from Sorkin in depicting women characters than we get here.

UPDATE: Aaron Sorkin addresses The Social Network's treatment of women.

Thompson on Hollywood

- "Usually puzzles in films are fake, but this is one without a solution," says prolific Brit director Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, A Mighty Heart) to The Guardian. He's referring to the complicated Meredith Kercher murder in Italy, for which the accused Amanda Knox already has a Lifetime movie in the works (which is threatened by Knox's also accused boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito). But Winterbottom, who attended a trial hearing in Perugia on Friday, wants to tell the story from the perspective of a journalis---to be played by Colin Firth---investigating the facts and mysteries of what really happened. The film would be a fictional dramatization, says Winterbottom, that will likely not have someone playing Knox at all: "I have no view on whether they did it, the film will not be about that." The drama, he believes, is in the extreme points of view and side-taking: "There was no explanation that covered everything, and the journalists were drawn in, in a way you would not expect."

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8 Comments

  • Muffy | October 11, 2010 3:09 AMReply

    How dare they not veiw woman as saints! *sarcasm*

  • sophia savage | October 5, 2010 4:00 AMReply

    We may be hailing this a film to define our generation, but that does not mean it has an obligation to make college students behave in a more politically correct nature on screen than they do in reality. The film portrayed women in the context of college culture quite accurately - and lets remember this isn't the misogynistic brain child of Hollywood - it's a dramatization based on a book about the founding of Facebook. Go to a college party and see how the boys and girls behave. Sadly, not all the women are debating new wave feminism while politely passing on the bong hits. Party girls aside, Rooney Mara's "Erica" maintains her dignity throughout the film (and her Facebook picture is quite respectable).

  • mark | October 5, 2010 2:34 AMReply

    they should have made mark a female character. just to shut people up. this film really won't shame culture in the long-run.

  • Kel | October 5, 2010 2:33 AMReply

    There also weren't any GLBT individuals and as far as I remember, there were very few (if any) African-Americans. Shame. Shame. This film should have included EVERY kind of person just because. No other reason.

  • basicmagic.com | October 4, 2010 11:02 AMReply

    the social network is to films...
    just as facebook is to the real magic and power of the web-
    a superficial blight, much ado about nothing.

    just because the social network has set its status to "best film of the year"-
    doesn't mean we have to accept it, or believe it.

    looking forward to hereafter, and true grit.
    ps- very astute comments by allie.

  • Allie | October 4, 2010 10:42 AMReply

    I'd agree that complaining about misogyny in Hollywood movies is like being on mute. Although my women friends and I laughed about how the more of a boy's movie it is, the more it's a "masterpiece", I didn't think anyone would actually mention it about this movie with it's snowballing success.

    Why is it that a dialogue-heavy movie where the dialogue is between men and women is boring, when the dialogue is between women it's unbearable, but when it's between men it's fascinating?

    This movie seemed to me to be almost instantly dated, disposable, as if The Social Network 2.0 will be out in six months. And, oh, the last 30 minutes were interminable. In public, however, I will be a courteous fan of the movie to try to deflect the wrath of those who love it. I don't care enough about it to argue.

  • The Pope | October 4, 2010 8:57 AMReply

    I am not condoning their behavior, but please remember that the men in the film are young men. Barely older than boys, most of them still in their teens when the film starts. And so are the women. The vast majority of boys of that age have no clue how to relate or interact with women.

    I don't think the film portrays women badly.

    I think it shows how women are treated by males of that age.

    Looking at those scenes where the young women were "bussed" in to the Harvard party, I was appalled, but I remember similar things happening in my days on campus. Awful times and no wonder so many women (and men) spend the rest of their 20s trying to validate or undo all that damage.

  • Jason | October 4, 2010 7:05 AMReply

    I wholeheartedly agree, "Social Network" depicts women in an ill light, particularly Asian women. The film displays them as easy, high-maintenance women--very offensive. Rashida Jones is the only woman of substance in the film, and the only one who is sympathetic, or shows any kind of mercy, toward Zuckerberg's persona.

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