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The (Homo)Social Network

The (Homo)Social Network (photo)

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Women in “The Social Network” are “less prizes than they are props,” writes Rebecca Davis O’Brien at The Daily Beast, “buxom extras literally bussed in to fill the roles of doting groupies, vengeful sluts, or dumpy, feminist killjoys.” “What are we to do with a great film that makes women look so awful?” she asks, going on to target the film’s portrayal of Asian women and its “shots that linger on women’s bodies.” Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon claims that “Ultimately, the question becomes whether the film’s sexism is intentional and, if so, whether it accurately reflects reality.”

Does “The Social Network” have a problem with women? I wouldn’t say so, but its characters sure do. Are women underrepresented in the film? Sure. It’s a story about guys! Desperate, socially inept guys. It’s a cinematic sausage fest. Of the different arguments being floated on this topic, the one that I find the most troubling is voiced by O’Brien’s sarcastic “who wants a brilliant movie marred by some obligatory ‘strong lady’ type-casting?” Who wants a movie marred by obligatory casting of any sort?

The suggestion that Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher had an obligation to insert a token “strong lady” character in order to make their film more demographically friendly or underline how their own intentions are separate from their characters is condescending to audiences. The film world still leans incredibly toward male perspectives, male characters and male audiences, and the way to fix that is by supporting and encouraging women making and working in movies, not by implying the need for an artificial quota of “go girl”ness.

09212010_socialnetwork2.jpgWe don’t see women involved in the running of Facebook because we hardly see the company once it has actually become one, with an office and a more gender equitable mix of staffers, much less when it got around to hiring Sheryl Sandberg as COO in 2008. The film’s about Facebook’s dorm room origin story, not a treatise on the tech world at large. It’s about the gap between the pursuit of success and the pursuit of happiness.

We don’t see women around much in general in the film because our main characters have no idea how to meet or pursue or talk to them. The smart, grounded girl the film starts out with — Rooney Mara’s Erica Albright — walks out on the asshole she’s been dating after he simultaneously ignores and talks down to her. It’s an affirming moment, but we don’t go with her, because it’s the asshole that “The Social Network” is about.

Mark Zuckerberg, or at least the Mark Zuckerberg of the movie, embodied by Jesse Eisenberg, finds the seeds of his company in the type of obscurely vengeful thought we’ve all found consolation in at one time or another — “You’ll be sorry when I’m famous/dead/beautiful/successful/rich!” What’s tragic about Zuckerberg is that even as he builds the company that will become a part of the lives of half a billion people, that will make him the world’s youngest billionaire, he’s still just a closed-off workaholic who has trouble relating to people, and his ex isn’t going to come crawling back because of his achievements.

Zuckerberg starts the film off wanting to distinguish himself, beyond getting into Harvard — he wants to get into a final club “because they’re exclusive,” and, as an afterthought, “they’re fun and they lead to a better life.” He wants the trappings of success because he thinks, like membership in a final club, they somehow lead to love and happiness, but he doesn’t care about money and the people who seek him and Eduardo out because of Facebook’s rise are, unsurprisingly, parasitic and unstable — like Brenda Song’s Christy character, certainly, but also like Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker, the dot-com rock star who’s all hot air.

10052010_socialnetwork4.jpg“The Social Network” doesn’t present a world in which women are all “gold-diggers, drunken floozies and that ‘bitch’ who got away,” it presents one in which those are pretty much the handful that cross the paths of our main characters, who do everything possible to meet girls except actually go out and meet them. That ridiculous party that’s juxtaposed with Mark’s assembling of Facemash.com isn’t meant to be a feasible depiction of what life in the final clubs is like — the members order in kegs of beer and kegs of ladies. It stands for everything Mark thinks he’s missing out on, the debaucherous good time the elite are surely having while he sits at home stewing in his own self-loathing. What would he even do if he was invited? He’d just sit in the corner with his laptop.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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