Aaron Sorkin Responds To Claims Of Sexism In The Social Network

By Katey Rich 2010-10-12 09:56:41discussion comments
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Aaron Sorkin Responds To Claims Of Sexism In The Social Network image
There's been a lot of writing about The Social Network so far, focusing on everything from how true it is to Mark Zuckerberg's actual life story to this hilarious McSweeney's piece about just how many enemies you will have once you get to 500 million friends. But some of the most interesting conversation has revolved around the question of whether or not the movie is sexist, with writers both male and female looking at the movie's lack of significant female characters, plus several scenes featuring women stripping at college parties while men ogle from the sidelines, and wondering if Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher have put together an excellent film that's also a little bit sexist.

The debate rages on-- if you want a good summary of the sexism claims and why they might be overblown, Alison Willmore at IFC wrote a great piece about it-- but you know whose opinion might be the most interesting to read? Aaron Sorkin's. He finally chimed in on the comments section of Ken Levine's TV blog, of all places, responding to a commenter who pointed out that she loved The Social Network, but felt the female characters were "basically sex objects/stupid groupies." Sorkin made a pretty convincing argument for both why he changed some of the facts of Zuckerberg's life-- including that he has had a girlfriend for years-- and why the thinly drawn female characters of the film are a commentary on the main male characters, not an effort on his part to diminish women overall.

Here's a segment of his response; click here to read the whole thing. I'm still not certain his argument makes up for some of the movie's (slight) flaws in its attitude toward women--- Rashida Jones's lawyer character is a strong female, yes, but she's also a cipher charged with awkwardly saying the movie's theme out loud-- but knowing how deliberately Sorkin made some of these choices makes arguments that the movie is outright misogynistic seem even more flawed. Anyway, check out what he had to say and decide for yourself if this settles the debate once and for all.

This is Aaron Sorkin and I wanted to address Taraza's comment. (Ken, I'll get to you in and your very generous blog post in just a moment.

Tarazza--believe me, I get it. It's not hard to understand how bright women could be appalled by what they saw in the movie but you have to understand that that was the very specific world I was writing about. Women are both prizes an equal. Mark's blogging that we hear in voiceover as he drinks, hacks, creates Facemash and dreams of the kind of party he's sure he's missing, came directly from Mark's blog. With the exception of doing some cuts and tightening (and I can promise you that nothing that I cut would have changed your perception of the people or the trajectory of the story by even an inch) I used Mark's blog verbatim. Mark said, "Erica Albright's a bitch" (Erica isn't her real name--I changed three names in the movie when there was no need to embarrass anyone further), "Do you think that's because all B.U. girls are bitches?" Facebook was born during a night of incredibly misogyny. The idea of comparing women to farm animals, and then to each other, based on their looks and then publicly ranking them. It was a revenge stunt, aimed first at the woman who'd most recently broke his heart (who should get some kind of medal for not breaking his head) and then at the entire female population of Harvard.

More generally, 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 80's. They're very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren't women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them.)

And this very disturbing attitude toward women isn't just confined to the guys who can't get dates.

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