Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sorkin Goes for the News

Sorkin Goes for the News

Here I thought HBO was done for a while on my Sunday night cue and then suddenly something that probably would interest me pops up. Newsroom. Though, I have to admit it's for a morbid reason. I mean, let's look at some of the negative reviews for the show;
and it’s time for everyone to acknowledge that, in fact, we’re a nation in decline. And that we only lead the world in incarcerated citizens. And that the Millennials are the “worst—period—generation—period—ever—period.” And that we once “reached for the stars” and were “informed by great men”
In a sense, it's angry baby boomers: The TV show
I knew I was going to hate-watch this when... Emily Mortimer's face appears during Daniel's opening screed. She's sitting in the audience, surrounded by a Halo of light. She then starts holding up signs to Will, so he can answer the "Why is America the greatest country on Earth" question in as inflammatory a manner as possible. Only later do we realize she's not really there, and, indeed, is just a college student who just sorta looks like her. She's an angel! In his head!
In any case, Daniel's character goes on a trite about how we aren't a great nation, nor the greatest nation. I agree with this. The other stuff seemed like a stretch though.

Like, what the fuck, what period of American history was he talking about when he's saying about "cultivating the world's greatest artist and the greatest economy". Is he talking about the 80's or something? I'm just not sure I get it. I'm sure that monologue with the tinkling piano music about the epic past greatness of America when men were men, women were women, and there wasn't no ten commandments and a man could raise a thirst just really turned a lot of people away.

Then he said that the Millenials are the worst generation ever? Let's here Sorkin speaking to a member of the worst generation ever...
“Listen here, Internet girl,” he says, getting up. “It wouldn’t kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while.” I’m not sure how he’s forgotten that I am writing for a newspaper; looking over the publicist’s shoulder, I see that every reporter is from a print publication (do not see: Drew Magary). I remind him. I say also, factually, “I have a New York Times subscription and an HBO subscription. Any other advice?”

He looks surprised, then high-fives me. Being not a person who high-fives or generally makes physical contact with interview subjects, I look more surprised.
“I’m sick of girls who don’t know how to high-five,” he says. He makes me try to do it “properly,” six times. He also makes me laugh; I’m nervous, and it’s so absurd. He loves it. He says, “Let me manhandle you.” Then he ambles off, hoping I’ll write something nice, as though he has never known how the news works, how many stories can be true.
In the show, there's really no meaningful distinction between idealism in action and blatant wish-fulfillment fantasy. And I do realize that it's going to be a one-and-done sort of show just like Studio 60. Because there's no way this is going to be the shining beacon of righteousness for years to come.

Even then, it's only making it through a full season because it's on HBO instead of a network. West Wing only survived because it was on NBC at the tail end of the Clinton administration and all that goodwill is gone now.

So even if it can snag the baby boomer liberals who can afford HBO now, which is exactly the kind of sell-out former radical that Aaron Sorkin is all about, I doubt this is going to live past to see a second season.

I'm sure that Sorkin will interpret this show's imminent failure as some kind of proof that the world is ultraconservative now and not that it was any fault of the show he is completely incapable of seeing how cringe-inducing his storytelling really is.

I think liberal boomers like to think they can watch something and feel informed and smart and tad bit elite towards. Studio 60 was about TV, which nobody knows anything about. Including and especially Aaron Sorkin apparently.

There was a lot of competition for this honor, but I have to say that the dumbest thing on Studio 60 was when Tom, a twenty-three year-old comedy actor/writer, decided to rail against blogs. Not a specific blog, but the whole medium of Blogging in general. Tom did not like blogs. He hated them. Mainly because Aaron Sorkin hates them. Let's be fucking honest here. If Tom was an actual twenty-three year-old comedy actor/writer, he would have a blog. Tom would also have a youtube channel, and a professional facebook page and a personal website. Tom would have a twitter account now. Tom would have a massive online presence because THAT IS HOW BEING A COMIC WORKS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST GODDAMN CENTURY!

But no.. it's lumped to just "These youn people just don't get television!" I mean, seriously, what the fuck kind of writers room doesn't have 20 people doing literally nothing but trolling youtube for hours at a time... like... really. That's what happens in writers rooms.

So it comes to no surprise that in The Newsroom, Sorkin still hates blogs in the year 2012. I just imagine the next episode will have a scene sort of like this;
Two twentysomething interns are whispering to each other standing next to the fax machine outside an office.

"Did you hear about that exciting news item?"
"Exciting news item?"
"Yeah, the exciting news item that's going to be the catalyst for this episode."
"No I haven't heard about that one yet, how'd you find out about it"
"Well I read about it."
"Read about it? Where, we've been checking the wire reports all morning"
"I read about it on a blog, of course."

Jeff Daniels, sitting at his desk, overhears them.

He crumples his papers and narrows his eyes.


And as if the blog shit isn't enough to just show you how high and mighty Sorkin is on himself, the title of the first episode was "We just decided to.." Could this possibly be any more sanctimonious? Which is strange because it has like.. lots of good actors and a few good performances and really great production values, but this writing is just... so amateur hour.

Sorkin's writing really does grate me sometimes. Like, remember the time on the west wing when Ainsley Hayes asked Sam Seaborne how she looked, since she was in a dress for a party or something, and Sam's response was "You'd make a good dog break his leash" and a nearby woman objected but was shot down because "It's all right, we're just work buddies"

It was written so that Ainsley's reasoning for it being okay was she liked being treated like "one of the boys" which makes perfect sense when you consider how often men make sexually suggestive comments to other men at their formal workplaces.

And this one was odd in Newsroom, Dev Patel's character is nicknamed "Punjab" and it's explained that it's from a character in Little Orphan Annie, which apparently Sorkin thinks it's less of a racial slur for some reason? Then the crew are able to figure out all the details of the deepwater horizon spill within a few hours before everyone else because one of the producers just happens to have two inside contacts at BP and Halliburton and another is a science geek who built a papermache volcano in elementary school.

Which seems a little odd, but it's even more odd that I read things like this;
"Sorkins dramatic turns and twists are arbitrary to the dramatic moment he creates and they are unforgiving and obvious and oblivious to the audience."
I'm confused, how can there be any twists and turns in a show about news events that already occurred in reality?

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