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The 'Social Network' backlash: A guide
Fueled by critics' raves and Oscar buzz, the Facebook biopic topped the box office — but it hasn't thrilled everyone. Here's a look at who's hating it and why
 
Some commentators argue that the film's female characters are sexist fantasies. Pictured here: Brenda Song as Christy, the girlfriend of Zuckerberg's business partner.
Some commentators argue that the film's female characters are sexist fantasies. Pictured here: Brenda Song as Christy, the girlfriend of Zuckerberg's business partner.
Columbia Pictures

The Social Network, a damning biopic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, won the weekend, debuting at No. 1 at the box office and raking in $23 million. As is the case with any monster hit, says ValleyWag's Ryan Tate, the "mushrooming backlash" is well under way. Here are five of the biggest complaints and gripes about the film:

1. It isn't an accurate portrayal of Zuckerberg or his back story
The movie's depiction of Zuckerberg — "blinkless, humorless, heartless ... Aspergery" — is nothing like the charismatic tech visionary I've met several times, says Jeff Jarvis in The Huffington Post. A lot of the film is fiction, says Terri Schwartz at MTV's Movie Blog, including the girlfriend who breaks up with Zuckerberg in the opening scene. No one has claimed it's strictly factual, says ValleyWag's Tate. Its makers have said, repeatedly, "that the movie is a riff on what actually happened, not a faithful reproduction."

2. The film doesn't get social networking
"Part of the backlash" from moviegoers and Silicon Valley, says Sharon Waxman in The Wrap, reflects the fact that "a large majority of the film's producers and principal architects have no active Facebook pages" and seemingly don't understand "the greatest communications revolution since moveable type." The movie represents "the biggest culmination yet of old media's disdain and misreading of new media," agrees Jose Antonio Vargas in The Huffington Post.

3. A Social Network lawsuit?
"It doesn't seem implausible to think that Zuckerberg would sue the pants off of somebody," says Ashby Jones in The Wall Street Journal, but would he win? The filmmakers make no attempt to mask his identity and don't even run the standard "any resemblance to real persons ..." disclaimer, says John Schwartz in The New York Times, but if a court found Zuckerberg to be a "public figure," as seems likely, he'd probably end up with nothing but a messy, dirty-laundry-airing court loss. His best shot: "Sue in London," where libel laws are much more plaintiff friendly, counsels First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, as quoted in the Times

4. The movie is sexist
"Complaining about misogyny in modern blockbuster cinema is about as productive as lamenting Facebook's grip on our society," says Rebecca Davis O'Brien in The Daily Beast. But The Social Network really takes the cake. With two exceptions, all the female characters in the movie are mere "props, buxom extras literally bused in to fill the roles of doting groupies, vengeful sluts, or dumpy, feminist killjoys." The adoring critical acclaim makes this sexism all the worse. "What are we to do with a great film that makes women look so awful?"

5. Some of the special effects are "terrible"
Seamlessly creating the Winklevoss twins by pasting one actor's head on another's body was slick, says Kyle Buchanan in New York magazine. But that makes the movie's "moments of terrible CG" all the worse. Take the "cold breath" that was digitally added to the outdoor Harvard scenes: The "ostentatiously visible and swirly" breath plumes are so "weird and jarring," it's a relief when the movie shifts to Palo Alto, Calif., where there's no chance that Jesse Eisenberg will be "upstaged by his own breath."

Sources: ValleyWag, MTV's Movie Blog, The Wrap, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Daily Beast, New York

 

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