The Social Network

Finally got around to watching The Social Network (a.k.a. The Facebook Movie) this morning. Stunning movie — a tragedy of ambition realized and of friendship betrayed, dark in many places (and visually dark in many scenes), alienating (despite being, in some sense, “about” social connection) — well written, directed, and acted. (The presentation of women in the movie is distressing, but possibly accurate from the point of view of the men depicted in it.)

There’s a lot to be said about works of art based on real-life events. They’re never true in detail to what happened (insofar as that can be known), and since they’re other people’s projections of their own artistic visions onto a found story — their re-workings of that story — they’re often both factually and emotionally false to the original. (But there are so many attractions to a found story.) So you shouldn’t take the movie to be a realistic presentation of Mark Zuckerberg’s progression from Cambridge MA to Palo Alto CA as Facebook rises.

Two linguistic points: Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Zuckerberg’s speech, and the fate of fuck in the extra material on the supplement disk to the main DVD (about the creation of the movie).

In the movie, Eisenberg’s speech style is intense, fast, machine-gun. (This is a definite heightening of the real Zuckerberg — who has even been known to laugh and joke.) I thought this came from the way Eisenberg was directed, but it turns out (as you can see from watching him on the supplement disc to the movie) that this is quite close to Eisenberg’s everyday speech style (though Eisenberg is very much given to laughing and joking, while still being serious about the craft of acting).

Then there’s the bleeping on the supplement disk. Two fucks get through in the movie (“my fuck-you flip-flops” and “the fuck bus”), plus at least one avoidance via freaking; apparently, two non-repeated fucks in a PG-13 movie is one over the regulation limit. (Yes, there are such things.) But on the supplement disk, all the fucks — and there are a fair number — are bleeped out, most entertainingly in an instance of the exclamation fucking shit!, where the final nasal of fucking is preserved, and shit gets by. All the taboo vocabulary besides fuck is untouched, in the film and on the supplement disk.

The ways of taboo avoidance are remarkable.


2 Responses to “The Social Network”

  1. Ann Burlingham Says:

    Fuck, yeah.

  2. Tenderfoot Says:

    Those “making of” supplements are produced for basic cable TV channels like AMC, TNT, and so on that permit “shit” but not “fuck.”

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