Poring through The Badger last week, I came across a response to Dino Kazamia’s critique of The Social Network, in my opinion a masterful film from a director who has been at the peak of his powers for around a decade. At the end of the day, just like the website The Social Network scrutinises on a moral level, the film is an acquired taste. Any film is subjective, and any individual has the right to express themselves on a public platform about their feelings.
What surprised me about Alexandra MacLeod’s response is how anyone has so completely managed to miss the point of the film. In presenting Facebook and its genesis, if you do not take into account the superficial, plastic world in which it was created, then yes, the fringe characters (especially the women) ARE presented as shallow and manipulative. Then again, so are the main male players: everyone in this film is out for themselves. We are seeing the world as Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, sees it, and he looks through loathesome eyes. What other motivation could you have to create Facebook bar hatred of everyone?
That she has criticised Kazamiafor not panning the film due to its ‘abhorrent sexism’ is the latest example of a repeated wave of militant feminist outbursts that are unprovoked and unnecessary. I do not propose to make any friends with this article; but you don’t make 500 million of them without making a few enemies. Of course, everyone needs and, in most cases, has a voice and a platform. When the roots of feminism were being founded, men had quite distinct hierarchical domination and feminism has been a vital part in establishing a flourishing democratic society. And yes, there are still a lot of situations and contexts where men do have an upper hand and women still have a lot to fight for. That is all perfectly righteous. Why, then, is the need felt to pick holes in everything, searching for those oppressive gender-biased overtones?
I regularly perform comedy songs, and in one of them I reference winning at the Nintendo game Street Fighter against a love interest. After performing this on campus one night, many moons ago, a girl approached me. It was clear that some of the content had upset her, and it transpired that referencing winning at a computer game was a way of directly supporting violence against women. It was at this point I lost patience: from any perspective, be it psychoanalytical, linguistic, or any other, how far can you pick at something before it falls apart? If you look hard enough, you can find support for your argument in anything and everything.
Certainly the implication at the end of the article is that Kazamia is encouraging a ‘tide of films that are just simply demeaning to women.’ Had she done any research into Kazamia, she would have stumbled across his last article praising Japanese feminist director Miyazaki for bringing strong female characters to the forefront of animation, in contrast to the misogyny presented by Disney. If that isn’t a ‘critic’ being critical, I am not sure what else is. In this self-perpetuating war against sexism, this will go down as friendly fire.
This is not a personal attack either. I have no personal issues with feminism or those that practice it. There was an intellectual method of approaching this which would have been far more constructive: she should have simply reviewed the film herself, instead of meta-critiquing another review within a fixed framework that was only going to spawn one conclusion. Let art be and its critics also.