Monday, October 04, 2010

Harvard Undergrads, Real and Imagined

I saw The Social Network over the week.  Like every reviewer, I enjoyed it.  In style and tone, it reminded me of Shattered Glass, another excellent docudrama, but one that received much less attention when it came out.

There was one thing that bothered me about the movie, however.  Every Harvard undergrad portrayed in the film was a pompous snob, an annoying social climber, or an antisocial nerd (or some combination of the three).  In short, they were all unlikable. The only really likable student in the movie was a character named Erica Albright, who apparently was attending BU.

After teaching at Harvard for 25 years, I can report that this depiction does not ring true to me.  Most Harvard undergrads are in fact quite likable.  If they were as unpleasant as the film made out, I would have left here long ago. It made me wonder about the veracity of the movie more generally.

Addendum: A former Harvard student informs me that Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook's cofounders and a major character in the film, was not only a Harvard economics major but also an ec 10 unit test grader.