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October 23rd, 2018

Aaron Sorkin Defends Treatment of Women In The Social Network

If you’ve seen The Social Network (and you really, really should if you haven’t — it’s brilliant) or know anything about the creation of Facebook, then you’ll know that it all started in a roundabout way because of a girl. However, several critics have taken aim at the movie and its writer Aaron Sorkin for the depiction of women.

The movie opens with Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) angrily reacting to being dumped by Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) by creating a website which objectifies women by comparing them to each other. As the story plays out, we see women being treated more like possessions rather than human beings.

Sorkin, who is pretty much a dead cert to pick up an Oscar nomination for his work on a stellar script, has come out fighting to defend himself in the comments section of fellow writer Ken Levine’s blog (though it looks like he got an assistant to do it for him), claiming that he was only trying to depict what happens among the Harvard elite.

He said that, “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.

“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.

“These aren’t the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the 80s. 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 surrond 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.

“I didn’t invent the “F–k Truck”, it’s real–and the men (boys) at the final clubs think it’s what they deserve for being who they are. (It’s only fair to note that the women–bussed in from other schools for the “hot” parties, wait on line to get on that bus without anyone pointing guns at their heads.)

“These women–whether it’s the girls who are happy to take their clothes off and dance for the boys or Eduardo’s psycho-girlfriend are real. I mean REALLY real. (In the case of Christy, Eduardo’s girlfriend so beautifully played by Brenda Song, I conflated two characters–again I hope you’ll trust me that doing that did nothing to alter our take on the events. Christy was the second of three characters whose name I changed.)

“I invented two characters — one was Rashida Jones’s “Marylin,” the youngest lawyer on the team and a far cry from the other women we see in the movie. She’s plainly serious, competent and, when asked, has no problem speaking the truth as she sees it to Mark… And Rooney Mara’s Erica’s a class act.”

The whole post and comments make for an interesting read, with Sorkin’s smart, considered defence of the movie quite admirable when some other writers/directors might have started blindly calling their accusers every name under the sun. I’m totally on board with his comments — The Social Network is based on real-life events so to water down the often poor treatment of women by Zuckerberg and other male characters would be disingenuous to what happened, even if some of the other stuff is made up.

What do you think?


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