The Social Network/Catfish

February 26, 2012 2 Comments

What is the nature of a constructed identity?  Is it a lie? An elaboration? An inadvertant pathway to the “reel” truth?  Does social media alienate?  If so, is it a cause or an effect of an underlying human dilemma?  Such were the themes of today’s Reel Deal presentation of “Social Network” and “Catfish”  to an interactive, appreciative audience at the Bloomfield Library today.  The afternoon began with a short tutorial and introduction to Tweeting by our first speaker, Diane Geiger who proceeded in the director’s chair to offer her perspectives on the cultural and  film constructs of these two movies.  Combining her personal experience with social networking(even status post wedding day) with the issues raised in Social Network’s tale of controversially  iconic figure Mark Zuckerberg.  There was an insight analysis of the use of  music and tempo to create the effective tone of the film.  The “bookend” organization of the film was explored and highlighted, while weaving the questions generated by the social network world:  is it real?  is it defective? is it legal?  who “owns” its product?  Generational? Destructive?  Innovative?  The second film, Catfish, was presented as a direct outcome of the Facebook age….its very construction echoing the accomplishments of  the social network…the benefits and caveats…..

Carol Levin expanded the discussion with a discussion  of  Mark Zuckerberg’s  developmental growth, a genius evolving from adolescent to adult under the pressure of  an exploding social network.  She explored the complexity of relationships developed and expanded in the age of the web, cautioning against a reductionist view to villianize those who reach out via the internet and instead understand the possibilities.  Carol’s daughter, Dr. Julie Levin Russo, provided a contemporary view of the nature of Facebook that despite the rapacious corporate agenda, inadvertantly provides creative applications for connection…go figure!  The audience participation reflected the depth of the discussions.  There were concerns expressed about the substitution of Facebook pseudoconnection for true intimacy.  There were questions raised about skepticism and truth.  There were questions about the application of Skype to psychotherapy…all discussed with rigor and creativity.

The program would not have been complete without a Reel Deal Oscar Nomination Ballot.   The results:  Best Picture–The Descendents(not Melancholia)   Best Actor:  George Clooney

Best Actress:  Meryl Streep   Biggest Snub:  Melancholia

The Next Reel Deal Event: Never Let Me Go On Sunday, March 24 at the Bloomfield Township Library  1pm-3pm   See you there!

Must See Movie of the Week, Reel Deal Past Seasons
2 Comments to “The Social Network/Catfish”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    Here are the lyrics to “Baby, You’re a Richman,” a Beatles song that plays over the credits to the Social Network.

    How does it feel to be
    One of the beautiful people?
    Now that you know who you are
    What do you want to be?
    And have you travelled very far?
    Far as the eye can see.
    How does it feel to be
    One of the beautiful people?
    How often have you been there?
    Often enough to know.
    What did you see, when you were there?
    Nothing that doesn’t show.
    Baby you’re a rich man,
    Baby you’re a rich man,
    Baby you’re a rich man too.
    You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo.
    What a thing to do.
    Baby you’re a rich man,
    Baby you’re a rich man,
    Baby you’re a rich man too.
    How does it feel to be
    One of the beautiful people?
    Tuned to a natural E
    Happy to be that way.
    Now that you’ve found another key
    What are you going to play?
    Baby you’re a rich man,
    Baby you’re a rich man,
    Baby you’re a rich man too.
    You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo.
    What a thing to do.
    Baby you’re a rich man.

    It seems relevant to the question of whether the Zuckerberg of the film was motivated by a desire for wealth. My view is that he was as a means to getting back at Erica Albright, his former girlfriend who attended Boston U.

    Are all our beliefs influenced by wishful thinking? I don’t think so. Surely mundane beliefs about whether there is a chair in the room is not. Nor, I think, are some of our beliefs about who loves us, or doesn’t. They are based on the evidence that others present in their behavior and reactions to us, some of which we can observe on their faces.

    Are emotions that are based on false beliefs real? They can be. If some mean person tells me falsely that my dog was run over by a car, I’ll be genuinely sad; if he falsely tells me I’ve won the lottery, I will be genuinely happy.

    Take any proposition. It is either true or false; you can believe it or not; and your belief can either be justified or not. But our actions and emotions are governed by what we believe (and desire), not by the truth, nor necessarily by the evidence.

    The three guys in Catfish discuss in the Special Features part of their DVD whether Angela used them and whether they used her. What’s important is not whether each used the other. We do that all the time when we provide a service to someone and they pay us for providing it. The question is whether it was an illicit use. She was using them illicitly because she was intentionally deceiving them; Nev was not intentionally deceiving her. When we “put our best foot forward” and do not reveal everything about ourselves, we need not be deceiving others. That’s because they have reason to believe that we are not completely revealing ourselves, but they do not have reason to believe that we are intentionally deceiving them. There are contexts where people do have reason to believe that, say, in a game of poker where bluffing is expected. And in those contexts intentional deception is permissible. So what is permissible regarding what a person reveals and conceals is a function of what people have reason to expect in the context.

    What Angela did was wrong, though understandable given her situation. What Nev did was not.

    Should we believe what is revealed in documentaries? I think there is a defeasible presumption that we should, and that that presumption is not defeated in Catfish. The filmmakers have reason to be truthful. If they were being deceptive or manipulating the evidence, they risk being discovered. That would be disastrous to their careers. The risk is not worth the benefit, and they surely realized this.

  2. jolyn says:

    Perfect song

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