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An Open Letter to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Re: 'The Social Network'

POSTED:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Peter Travers at the 'Rolling Stone' offices in New York City, 2009.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Peter Travers at the 'Rolling Stone' offices in New York City, 2009.

This is in response to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's open letter.

Hey Joe,

Really enjoyed your thoughts on The Social Network, including your nagging doubts about my review. Debating a good movie is almost as much fun as seeing one. We've gone at it before with great relish. And I hope we'll do it again. Just to be clear, I never did claim the movie cooked up by Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher was the last word on your generation, only a discouraging one. You are right to point out that the Internet has a lot of positives. It can and does open lines of communication. That's what you're doing, and I know you'll keep on keeping on, with HitRecord.org. That's what Mark Zuckerberg was probably thinking when he conjured up Facebook. You say that The Social Network only tells half the story. I think it tells less than that. The movie really isn't about Facebook at all. We hardly see anyone use it. It's about the exploitation of a groundbreaking technology for profit.  And if that technology is invasive or isolating to friendships, screw it. Where's the new social network that will make billions by invading our dreams? There's another recent movie that attacked that issue brilliantly. It's called Inception, and you're in it.

Off the Cuff with Peter Travers: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

What's "defining" about The Social Network is the way it shows a generation losing touch with its humanity. The satire in Sorkin's script isn't aimed at what you call the "cool kids," the "creative, non-narcissistic" users of the Internet who don't use "friend" as a verb. They are in the minority. Who's the majority? Go to any multiplex to see a movie — I just came back from Sundance — and you'll see a lightshow of iPhones and Blackberrys at every performance.  Not before or after the movie, but during. The guy next to me (from your generation) was checking his e-mail and updating his Facebook status. No apology. No shame. He just shot me a look. Like I wasn't there. Like the audience wasn't there. Like it was just him and a glowing screen.

Food for thought, wouldn't you say, Joe? I'd love to chew it over with you sometime. In person.

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Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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