Social network geeks aren’t cool, just angry losers
At some point in the past decade, geeks became cool.
Like the products they created, geeks began to be marketed as friendly and helpful types that everyday people could turn to to solve problems or get more out of life.
Sometimes they even seemed to be attractive to women. The Social Network should go some way to ending all of this.
Mark Zuckerberg, the geek whose exploits are on show in David Fincher’s new film about the founding of Facebook, is definitely not a “Mac Guy”.
From the opening scene he is portrayed as a vicious, spiteful loner who can’t keep a girlfriend and doesn’t know what to do with a groupie.
The Social Network is a brutal story about masculine hierarchies, set in a subculture where women are viewed from afar.
Much of the film deals with the fact geeks are at the bottom of the male food chain, but it never portrays them as victims. Instead it shows them as their own worst enemy.
The movie begins with Zuckerberg’s girlfriend dumping him in a crowded university bar. It’s a pity that he’ll go through life thinking women don’t like him because he’s a nerd, she says.
The real reason will be because he’s an arsehole.
In retaliation, Zuckerberg goes home and writes a public blog post about how she’s a bitch with small breasts.
He then considers rating pictures of the other female students against those of farm animals – one of the many ideas that leads to the creation of the social networking website he’s famous for.
It’s uncomfortable viewing, and that’s just the first ten minutes.
Later on in the film, Zuckerberg is seduced by Silicon Valley in part with the promise of a business card that reads: “I’m the CEO, bitch.”
It’s a not-so-subtle nod to the casual sexism of the IT industry and geek culture more generally, where girls are an oddity and gamers use the phrase “gang rape” to describe losing a match.
The film’s creators, including screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin, have been accused of hating women.
Every female in the film is portrayed as an object of desire. They’re either groupies, sluts, lingerie models and/or unattainable.
But that’s sort of the point.
It’s that depiction which provides the motivation of the main characters and sets up the film’s biggest subplot – that Zuckerberg may not be able to control women, but he can turn his best friend into one.
The Social Network is as much about the rise of Zuckerberg as it is the fall of his friend and business partner Eduardo Saverin.
Saverin’s emasculation at the hands of Zuckerberg is thorough and heartbreaking.
There’s a deliberate choice of words when, remembering it later in a legal proceeding, Saverin trembles and says: “My father won’t even look at me.”
Like Fincher’s earlier book adaptation Fight Club, The Social Network is sure to spark debate about misogyny, masculinity and the role of men in the modern world.
But this time there’s no sweaty Brad Pitt on screen to glamorise.
Just a vicious little arsehole.
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