Wanna know what I think about The Newsroom? It's a good show -- a very good first start. It's presumptuous and preachy, and it reeks of imploding self-confidence in itself, but it's a fine framework for a show and the fact that it's on the unhinged HBO is a bonus. The negative reviews it's receiving are coming only from journalists who work in "newsrooms" and who will hate everything about any show that tells them how/who they are, and they only hate it because they're jealous they didn't think to write it first.
Now, wanna know what we think about Aaron Sorkin?
For a long time, the Sultan of Spit has been a controversial figure. His personal history hasn't always been orderly -- what with drugs and divorce and stuff -- but it's always seemed to help his writing. He has an edge, and so does his dialogue.
A Few Good Men, The Social Network, and Moneyball. Sorkin can make words pop from the page like Tarantino, and it's why he's one of the only famous screenwriters in the world. Arthur Miller, and Aaron Sorkin. (Boy, he'd love that, wouldn't he?)
Of course, Sorkin is divisive for another reason and that reason is his snake-like personality and his slithering tongue. He's arrogant, he's a mouth, and -- worst of all -- he always thinks he's right. Good from far, but far from good.
It's great that everyone else thinks he's good at what he does, but it seems like he already knows it.
His latest interview with Globe and Mail reporter Sarak Nicole Prickett is one of those defining examples that you just hope and pray will come along... and then it does. And, good for Prickett, who titled her piece "How to get under Aaron Sorkin's skin." Good on her. The guy deserves it.
With a head the size of the tombstone he's probably bought for himself, Aaron Sorkin has jumped with two feet into Billy Bob Thornton territory.
"Listen here, Internet girl... it wouldn't kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while."
Right, because I'm sure Prickett's job at the Globe and Mail doesn't give her any of that knowledge, and I'm sure Aaron Sorkin is the only person in the world who's ever seen All the President's Men.
"I think I would have done very well, as a writer, in the forties... I think the last time America was a great country was then, or not long after. It was before Vietnam, before Watergate."
"Listen, typewriter boy, it wouldn't kill you to read To Kill a Mockingbird or watch the History Channel once in a while."
This is why writers shouldn't get too much time in front of the camera. Sooner or later, they start to think they belong there.
Sorkin, of course, is trapped in the past and he's trapped in the illusion that the past is not the past but the rightful heir to the future. Prickett appropriately points out in her article that the forties was only always good for white men, and she's right.
Sorkin's obsession with a select period of time that he looks at through a retrospective tunnel is no different than the same kind of Golden Age thinking carried by Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris.
Only, with Sorkin, it's not funny. And, because Rachel McAdams's character isn't cheating on Sorkin, we don't have to feel bad for him.
Of course, Jeff Daniels plays (what we can assume is) Sorkin's real-life personality to a tee: he yells and he thinks everybody is below him, even as he wishes the world were a better place.
Owen Wilson played Woody Allen, only without the "I love my daughter-in-law" thing, so it was pretty damn charming. Daniels is just playing Sorkin, for better or worse. Charming on the side.
And, if you're looking for someone else who thinks the Vietnam War and Republican politics during the 1960's and 70's are the only things that have ever been wrong with the United States, Jane Fonda's in The Newsroom, too.
Meanwhile, Gawker's Drew Magary (who wrote a scathing review of the show before Prickett's piece on Sorkin) defended Prickett with complete accuracy and well-intentioned ruthlessness.
"Seriously, who the fu*k talks to people like this? Internet girl? Prickett wasn't even writing her piece for those snarky intertubes. She was writing it for a fu*king newspaper. The paternalism that Sorkin displays here is repugnant."
"Sorkin somehow believes he is the ONLY person in America who understands this, and it's his mission to get everyone on the same page. There's a self-imposed nobility to him that makes me wanna throw up in my sink. WE GOTTA GO BACK, EVERYONE. EDWARD R. MURROW AND SH*T."
We've always viewed Sorkin as a guy who could play with words and people and make them do whatever he wanted them to, all the while fulfilling our craving need for entertainment and the fast-paced wit of Jesse Eisenberg. Unfortunately for Sorkin, that's the only way we like him.
He needs to be had on the rocks, not neat.
And, by the way, how can Sorkin get mad at the Internet or anyone else for being snarky or mean? Every one of his protagonists in anything he's ever written is despicably awful to people around him, and his own critiques of others don't leave much to the imagination.
"Hey Aaron, tells us how you really feel."
With folks like Sorkin, you always get fooled into believing that you should give him the keys to your television set and bow before him.
Turns out, all he's done is watch Good Night, and Good Luck, and then he thought he was the only one who did so.
*This article was originally posted on White Cover Magazine.