The Social Network

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Fandom
Name: The Social Network
Abbreviation(s): TSN
Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Date(s): 1 October 2010
Medium: film
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: Wikipedia:The_Social_Network Tsn.jpeg
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Premise

The Social Network is a 2010 film about the creation of Facebook. Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher (Fight Club), the film looks at the trial of two simultaneous lawsuits brought against Mark Zuckerberg, using flashbacks to tell a fictionalized version of events during the period in 2004 when Mark, then a sophomore at Harvard, coded Facebook's initial interface and began to grow its userbase. The relationship between Mark and his friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin is the film's primary narrative focus.

Characters

Facebook Four

Fanon has named the following characters the "Facebook Four" or OT4, even though Mark and Eduardo are the major players of the movie. Mark, Chris, and Dustin, however were roommates (both in real life and mentioned briefly in the movie), and all four were cited on the original Facebook masthead.

As well as Andrew McCollum, but he's not in the movie.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a computer programmer who is incredibly observant of his peers, despite feeling like an outsider among them. In the film, he is depicted as a misanthropic genius who is uninterested in meaningful social interaction and close relationships. He hopes to be inducted into one of Harvard's elite social clubs but lacks the necessary influence or charm; nevertheless, his passion for coding new projects and creative integrity is more prominent than his desire for reputation. He is a sophomore in college in the film, and drops out before his junior year to work on Facebook. He is described by more than one character as an "asshole."

Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) studied economics at Harvard and is Mark's best friend. The son of a wealthy industrialist, Eduardo-in-the-film is easy-going and well-connected, friendly with many people and already invited to join the club Mark wishes he could be a part of. He plays foil to Mark: loyal, social, and business-driven where Mark is idealistic. Since he provides the cash needed to get Facebook off the ground, he is appointed as Facebook's CFO. In the script of the movie, Eduardo is described as a sophomore, but is in real life (and can be interpreted as, as his age is never stated in the film) a year older than Mark and a junior in college.

Dustin Moscovitz (Joe Mazzello) is a sophomore-year economics major, described as a "programmer" by Eduardo during the movie. He is an extremely minor character and tends to play a larger role in fanworks. His small amount of screentime (and by fanon) depicts him as a goofy enthusiast who is supportive of Mark's coding ventures. He joins Mark in Palo Alto over the summer, subsequently also dropping out of Harvard to work at Facebook.

Chris Hughes (Patrick Mapel) has a sum of five lines in the movie, but is explicitly mentioned as the head of Facebook's public relations. His fanon depiction is often based on real life information: he is the same age as Mark and Dustin; he is gay (and as of 2012, married); he is from North Carolina; he was an English major; and in 2006, he left Facebook to help with the 2008 Obama campaign. A large amount of fanwork writes him as a high-strung idealist, which is likely influenced from an early and immensely popular Social Network fanfiction, Never Marry For Money (You Can Borrow It Cheaper), one of the first fics to dynamically characterize Chris.

Other Characters

Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) created Napster in the mid-nineties, while still a high school student himself. In the film, he is a cocky, high-rolling rockstar figure who tries to act as a mentor to Mark, usurping Eduardo's position as closest confidant.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are twin brothers who are suing Mark for having stolen their idea when he created Facebook, along with their business partner Divya Narendra.

Erica Albright is Mark's ex-girlfriend. She isn't onscreen very often in the film, but Mark spends time thinking about her. She is one of the characters who calls Mark an asshole.

Christy Lee is an early Facebook fan who becomes Eduardo's girlfriend in the film.

Ships

Eduardo/Mark is the widely accepted OTP of the fandom.

Other pairings that have received some attention include:

  • Chris/Dustin
  • Eduardo/Sean
  • Cameron/Tyler, sometimes also called Winklecest
  • Cameron/Divya, Tyler/Divya
  • Cameron/Divya/Tyler
  • Dustin/Mark
  • Cameron/Eduardo
  • Chris/Eduardo

Fandom

Because there was already an established fandom around Aaron Sorkin's other works (The West Wing, Sports Night), there was considerable fannish buzz abound the film even before it was released. This, along with the fact that the film's focus on the fraught relationship of its male leads lends itself easily to a slash interpretation, has resulted in a quickly-growing fandom surrounding the film and its actors.

The movie's English-speaking fandom was active from 2011 to 2014, though since 2011 was the wake of Tumblr fandom whilst LiveJournal fandom still remained intact before its 2012 upheaval, the fans seemed to exist in two separate planes, the fandom on Tumblr being much more short-lived than the one on LJ. This is likely due to the Tumblr fannish output being mostly graphics which is harder to sustain in terms of activity for a movie fandom, while LJ's runs primarily on fanfiction, which is more or less neverending in terms of unique content.[1]

The Social Network fandom also consisted of many fanwork events, most significantly the kinkmeme, as well as the big bang, the secret santa exchange, a fanwork-a-thon, and a springfest during its heyday. It has noticeably died down since. However, as of 2017 there is still an impressively active Chinese-speaking fandom on Lofter and MTSlash.

Many tend to regard TSN fandom for having one of the highest quality fanfiction outputs for a fandom, despite its small size.[2] However, since the majority of its works are at the fandom kink meme with an outdated Delicious account, navigating for fic tends to be difficult. Thus rec lists became a useful tool in an effort to wade through unfilled prompts to read particularly commended fic, particularly bea_recs's Social Network rec lists.

The Social Network has qualified and has been nominated for Yuletide every year since its release.[3]

Fan communities and resources

LiveJournal Communities

Communities and Archives elsewhere

Meta/Further Reading

Fanwork Examples

Controversy with Gawker

On February 2, 2012, Ryan Tate of Gawker wrote and published an article entitled The Most Awesome Homoerotic Mark Zuckerberg Fanfic[4], which discusses The Social Network fanfiction and links to the mark_eduardo community on LiveJournal. The article also directly links to a number of fanfiction pieces themselves.

Eduardo Saverin isn't just a Facebook co-founder made famous by The Social Network and set to get very rich off the Facebook IPO. He is also, judging from the burgeoning genre of Mark Zuckerberg fanfic, the college hottie online romance authors most want to see hook up with Facebook's young CEO.

Dvice published a fun survey of Zuckerberg fanfic, drawn from fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own and described as "NSFW-ish." We've also taken a gander at the Mark-Eduardo Livejournal, which also contains its fair share of naked Mark-and-Wardo scenes.

Naturally, this spurned upset from the fandom, many who began or temporarily locked their fics as a result.

Shortly after, Tumblr user safyhallanfarah sent Adrian Chen, a staff writer of the Gawker (and linked in the article), an email in response to the article. She thereafter posted about the email to her Tumblr blog.[5]

Hi Adrian,

You called it “Mark Zuckerberg fanfic,” but Zuck has little to do with it. It’s less about TSN, and more about the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg, and Andrew Garfield.

There is also a large segment of TSN fandom that believes Jesse Eisenberg, and Andrew Garfield are in an actual relationship. This part of the fandom is referred to as ‘Jewnicorn.’ Urban Dictionary defines ‘Jewnicorn’ as: “A word used by the incredibly quality faction of The Social Network fandom on Tumblr to describe Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg, as both of them are Jews who were clearly raised by unicorns in a magical forest somewhere.”

Judging from the most popular definition, the people of this fandom are well aware that it’s very likely a relationship between the two actors is as mythical as unicorns. Personally, I consider the friendship of Jesse, and Andrew the archetypal post gender normative (to borrow a phrase from Eisenberg) bromance. There’s a distinction between the modern day ‘bromance’ and ‘Jewnicorn.’ The biggest difference between the two types of relationships is that within typical bromance, unlike Jewnicorn, elements of knee-jerk no-homoism exist. (Just watch any Judd Apatow movie where “you’re so gay” jokes are ubiquitous.) It’s quite clear, from all of their press junkets and interviews together, Andrew and Jesse eschew gender norms. This makes them appealing to young girls who write slash fanfiction in their free time.

Since 2010, these girls have been documenting the instances in which Jesse, and Andrew have been publicly flirtatious with each other. If they are this flirtatious in public, it’s easy to imagine the two in a relationship. Furthermore, these two men are incredibly smart, and the girls of this fandom are smart, too. Most of the girls of this fandom are self-identified feminists, anti-racists, etc.

I would say Jesse Eisenberg is the biggest fixture of this fandom because he is culturally more relevant than Garfield. Jesse writes plays, short humor pieces, etc. His most recent play, Asuncion, deals with white guilt, and while it is clear that Jesse Eisenberg is no Tim Wise, a meme idealizing him as such has cropped up.

This is certainly a fandom worth keeping up with for your internet culture beat.

Best,

Safy

safyhallanfarah also linked to this Youtube video in their letter.

This post created even more fannish upset, creating discussions surrounding the letter and whether or not safyhallanfarah should have responded to the article in the first place.[6][7] Many fans also took issue with the implication that many Mark/Eduardo shippers are actually Andrew/Jesse tinhats, to which many fans expressed their concern to keep all RPF bearings behind the fourth wall. Others noted that safyhallanfarah was not even in the fandom, so should not have spoken on the subject in the first place.[8]

Adrian Chen published a response[9] to safyhallanfarah's email, as well as remarking on the conflict it created in the fandom.

I’m pointing this out because I haven’t seen a community react so viscerally to being covered since I started writing about 4chan a couple summers ago. This was one, tiny post!

I love that these online communities foster a sense of intimacy that lets people behave and speak in ways they wouldn’t in the real world. I’d probably be out of a job without it, given how much I cover the odd corners of the web. But I’ve never understood the moral indignation when someone from the outside takes an interest. When something like TSN fandom happens entirely on the open web, you can’t be shocked when someone else links to it. That’s the internet, and I suspect part of the thrill of taking part in these communities is the possibility that anyone can stumble on it.

Since then, the mark_eduardo community on LiveJournal has been locked to members only.

Meta

There has been much argument about the nature of this movie: is it historically true? Evidently not. Does that make it professionally produced RPF? If so, what is fandom's responsibility towards separating the movie characters from their real life versions and can you write a fic about the real life Zuckerberg's reaction to the movie? Rabbit holes!

To add to the convolution, there is a large overlap between fans of the film's characters (themselves fictionalized versions of real life, contemporary people) and fans of RPF about the actors portraying these characters. Rabbit holes within rabbit holes!

Other Resources

References

  1. "SO HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS RE: THE SOCIAL NETWORK FANDOM" by figletofvenice
  2. Having still qualified for Yuletide as of 2017
  3. As of 2017
  4. Archived
  5. Archived reblog of safyhallanfarah (now fatwasandfanboys); original post is deleted
  6. the gentle hum of anxiety { FANDOM JUNK / TEMPORARILY LOCKING TSN FIC } by seas0ul
  7. TSN fandom can be better than this by thisissirius
  8. Not another fandom wank war, please... by anyssia
  9. Today I Learned What Jewnicorn Is by Adrian Chen