In Aaron Sorkin’s creative middle age, his new work has garnered a bad reputation. It’s pretentious and condescending. It romanticizes White Men with Ideals. Every woman is engineered to be a female, fuckable version of Sorkin himself. And, re: his latest venture The Newsroom: a cable news show is a less-than-inspiring setting to explore Big Ideas. As much as I love Keith Olbermann (and by love I mean, I’ve watched a couple videos posted around the ole FB, and he seems cool), I don’t really care about what went into making his MSNBC show. Twenty-four hour news networks exhaust me and are, ultimately, unnecessary. If there was actual, worthwhile analysis happening, that would be one thing.
But I’m pretty sure a re-run of Revenge would do more good than this breaking story.
Oh, did I mention that I love The Newsroom? Because I really do.
I see its flaws. Aside from the typical Sorkin bullshit highlighted above, it has the serious problem of tackling the news with the benefit of hindsight. How could the characters not come out on top after their coverage of the Boston bombing? The writers had over a year to tackle the issue. And last Sunday’s episode had a stodgy plotline about old vs. new news that sounded as if it came straight from the mouth of your grandfather at Thanksgiving. (You know, “All these kids and their tweets.” That sort of thing.)
Whatever, I’m still into it.
The Newsroom plays on my emotions, and I 100% let it. Everyone makes paragraph-long speeches about justice and love and America. The music swells at all the right moments. Everyone is good at their jobs, and it’s sexy.
This is true of Sorkin’s other work too. The West Wing, The Social Network, A Few Good Men: They all feature single-minded, stubborn assholes. But these assholes are on the noble side of complicated issues. They’re on the side of truth and equality, where weaker people might founder. And everyone is so fucking well-spoken. I eat it all up with a spoon, gladly.
It’s unlikely Sorkin will ever make another West Wing, and we’re all worse off for that. In the White House, people “doing the honorable thing” actually deserves the warm fuzzies of hope that flutter through my heart. America! But I’m not ashamed that I buy into the same cheesiness when I watch The Newsroom, despite its weaknesses. It makes me feel GOOD, ok?! It inspires me to work harder at what I love, and reminds me what passion in the workplace looks like. It makes me want to take big risks, in life and love and work. It moves me to read the actual news. Frankly, for me, it does everything that Sorkin sets out to do with his writing.
But no way would I ever say that to his face. Wouldn’t want to give him the satisfaction.