Why I’m Not Bashing Aaron Sorkin Today

December 15, 2014 — Leave a comment
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Aaron Sorkin, creator of SPORTS NIGHT, THE WEST WING, STUDIO 60 and THE NEWSROOM

“Listen… I don’t think it’s any secret that this show, like a lot of things I’ve written, can be overly earnest and aggressively un-cool. None of these characters are hip. They are all – the men, the women, everybody – based in some way on my Father. He is a wonderful man and has always had one foot back in a time long ago. All of the Don Quixote metaphors are about my Father. And so to combat the earnestness sometimes you have to be silly.”

Aaron Sorkin, speaking about THE NEWSROOM

There are three simple reasons I won’t jump on the Aaron-Sorkin-Bashing-Bandwagon. Well, make that four. The first reason is purely subjective: I tend to enjoy what he creates. The 3 more objective reasons I don’t join the chorus of people who complain that he recycles, or argue that he’s too earnest by half, or who alternately mock him for being too idealistic and out of touch, are these:

  • He’s doing what he wants to do.
  • He knows what he’s doing.
  • He knows why he’s doing it.

If he was not self-aware… If he was just being lazy and thought he was getting away with it… If he wouldn’t acknowledge that his characters all basically speak in the same idealistic voice – then I might be inclined to be pissy and dismissive about Aaron Sorkin’s work. (I have no right to be pissy and dismissive about him as a human being. Or did we abolish the Golden Rule and no one told me?) But clearly he is in touch with what motivates him and he’s fortunate enough to make a living creating work that expresses his life experience, aspirations and worldview. Isn’t that what we hope artists will do? I have more trouble with people who cynically create content they don’t personally enjoy because they know there’s a crowd that will gobble it up.

I don’t want to overstate this nor do I want to understate it. I’ll just leave it at this — I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to see and hear a few people I would never have known if Sorkin hadn’t done his thing. The names Jed Bartlett, Leona Lansing, Jeremy Goodwin, Charlie Skinner, Jordan McDeere, Toby Ziegler, Sloan Sabbith, Charlie Young, CJ Cregg, Issac Jaffe, Josh Lyman, Matt Albie, Rebecca Halliday, Dan Rydell, Don Keefer, Percy Fitzwallace, McKenzie MacHale and Leo McGarry are just a few that come to mind.

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