Tag Archive: Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin’s hero complex

The West Wing

The big news from the interview that Aaron Sorkin did for Hero Summit was the surprisingly detailed amount of information he gave about how the Steve Jobs movie that he’s writing would play out, for obvious reasons. (It’s actually kind of disappointing, since I was basically hoping for a sequel to Pirates of Silicon Valley.) But what struck me the most was a throwaway remark he makes when the interviewer asks him how he might have written Mitt Romney’s concession speech.

“In my world, Romney wouldn’t have given a concession speech,” Sorkin replies. “I could’ve had him win.”

He never explains exactly what he means, but goes on to suggest that in his version of the campaign, Romney would have been the sort of bold truth-teller who stands up to the extremes in his party and makes an appeal for common decency. And it’s probably the most telling moment in the interview, because it kind of perfectly captures the style and limitations of Sorkin’s writing.


The New Format fallacy

Back this summer, as part of his less-than-subtle attempt to tell American journalism how to fix itself, Aaron Sorkin inserted his vision of an idealized debate into last year’s Republican primary. The whole thing turned into a case study in how much better The Newsroom was at identifying the problems in modern journalism than it was at coming up with solutions, and how the show managed to be half-right and yet go horribly wrong. But considering what did and didn’t work in this week’s real presidential debate, it’s worth taking another look.

I mentioned right after the debate that I thought its biggest problem was the disengaged approach from moderater Jim Lehrer. That mattered more than usual because this debate actually did include a kind of revolutionary new format, which mostly did away with the tightly structured response times we’re used to from previous presidential debates. It’s a promising trend, but it means we really do need the moderator to play a more agressive role.


Aaron Sorkin is telling us yesterday’s news

HBO, "The Newsroom"

I thought about going with “Aaron Sorkin is yesterday’s news,” but that seemed excessively mean. And probably inaccurate.

A recurring subplot in Sorkin’s previous worst show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, dealt with a character who was developing a TV show about the United Nations, which he was planning to put on HBO because it was too highbrow for the network TV audience — an idea that Amanda Peet’s fake programming director tried to dissuade him of. So it’s probably telling that now, after Studio 60 collapsed under its own baggage and Sorkin himself got to put a show on HBO, his big idea was apparently to make Studio 60 again.

The Newsroom works considerably better than Studio 60 did, largely because it doesn’t have to sell the idea that a fake version of Saturday Night Live is somehow central to the soul of American society. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t seem to have advanced its analysis of the news industry much beyond a few wistful lines about how much better America was when a bunch of old white men told us what to think every night.