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Comments: Week of October 4, 2010

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1. Mark Harris’s cover-story dissection of how writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher re-created the founding of Facebook in their film The Social Network (Inventing Facebook,” September 27) was popular both with Hollywood wonks and regular readers. “A piece dense enough to satisfy this Social Network junkie’s needs,” wrote Sasha Stone at Awards Daily. “If you were at all curious about how the project came to be and how well Sorkin and Fincher worked together, it is all here.” Many weighed in on the thorny question of how much of a real person’s personality it was fair to fabricate. “Harris deftly forced the screenwriter into a corner, making him address whether or not his movie is an honest piece of cinema,” wrote John Hudson at the Atlantic Wire, pointing to Sorkin’s statement that “art isn’t about what happened.” “It’s clear that anytime reality gets in the way of Sorkinland, reality loses,” noted Kyle Smith on the New York Post’s Movies blog. One commenter had no problem with the filmmakers’ artistic license: “I am obsessed with seeing this movie already and even more so now. I love the idea of creating a character that is a real living person, especially because most people that see the movie won’t read about it first and will assume that it’s Mark.” Others were less charitable. “While it is painful to say anything negative about the man who wrote A Few Good Men, Sorkin’s approach to this movie is simply absurd,” argued Isaac Chotiner on The New Republic’s website. “Sorkin is intent on letting everyone know that the movie is not supposed to be entirely fact-based. But then goes on the rant to Harris about how the Internet is an evil tool spreading misinformation! This could be defensible rather than hypocritical. After all, real events must always be somewhat fictionalized for the sake of art. But Sorkin seems unable to hold true to his vision.” Writing on his personal blog, the author John Kobs detected a trace of revenge in Sorkin’s retelling. “As perhaps the smartest, most awkward guy in the entire world, Mark Zuckerberg is the perfect scapegoat … [He] stole Hollywood’s cultural influence, built a half-a-billion-strong distribution network it could only dream of, and delivered a brutal blow to its business model … In an impressively meta-sense, this movie recaptures the pop-cultural buzz that has been co-opted by Facebook, at least for the moment.”


2. Adam Sternbergh’s profile of Reid Stowe, who spent 1,152 days sailing around the world aboard his vessel the Anne (The Man Who Fell to Shore,” September 27), tipped off debate among the commentariat about whether Stowe is deserving of praise or scorn. “I, for one, would like to commend Reid’s tenacity in achieving his goal, as well as his ability to get outside the commercialism that has reduced many of us to nothing more than consumers in the machine,” wrote one commenter. “Reid Stowe should be a household name,” proclaimed the travel blog at the Huffington Post. “The last guy that did this got his boat put in a museum.” “Reid is a narcissistic jerk,” argued another nymag.com commenter. “What good did he do, especially for ‘humanity’? Get a job (or goal in life that is not just self-promotion), and be a productive member of society.” Another commenter was disappointed that Stowe hadn’t chosen to be more disconnected. “I want to be impressed, and certainly I recognize that it’s an accomplishment to build your own boat and live on the ocean for three years. But in light of modern technology (GPS! E-mail! Sat phones!), it sheds some perspective on what others accomplished before him.”

3. In the “Arena” interview with Guinness heiress Ivana Lowell last week about her memoir, she is incorrectly quoted about her affair with “the good-looking” Weinstein brother Harvey. In fact, her affair was with Bob Weinstein.

4. Last week, Vulture, nymag.com’s obsessive home for culture coverage across the high-low spectrum, expanded from a blog to a full-fledged online entertainment magazine. The new Vulture (which can be found both on the nymag.com homepage and at vulture.com) retains the blog’s signature combination of breaking news, aggregation of the best weird stuff from across the web, in-depth chat-room interviews, and more slideshows than you can shake a stick at—and adds new features like Vulture Recommends, where Vulture critics and celebrity guests, like Salman Rushdie and Sarah Silverman, alert you to the movies, TV shows, books, and more that are worth your time; plus many new departments, a new design, and tons of new content. Vulture will also feature regular reports from the New York critics, who now include Scott Brown on theater and Nitsuh Abebe on popular music. Check out the new Vulture if you haven’t already. We’re pretty excited about it.

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