Space Ramblings

Sympathy for the Sorkin Devil

Okay so The Newsroom is taking a beating from professional working reporters, not including Dan Rather, who used to be one and is

sorkin

Sorkin with his favorite person in the world

now just a sad old man who posts at Gawker. Maybe Sorkin’s formula has worn a bit thin. Maybe reporters feel berated and belittled by The Newsroom. It would be like Jake Tapper showing up at Sorkin’s job and telling him how to write scripts properly. But the biggest story to come out of The Newsroom’s newsroom is Sorkin’s clash with one Sarah Nicole Prickett.

I don’t really like articles where the reporter becomes the story. There’s no doubt that Sorkin is an ass, but Sarah Nicole Prickett’s interview with him is short on interview and long on out of context quotes.

Reading between the mostly left out lines, we can conclude that Sorkin’s ego felt pricked because Prickett brought up the internet displacing traditional news and Aaron Sorkin is really not a fan of the internet. That’s what probably leads him to call her “Internet Girl”.

But Prickett spends a lot of time implying that he’s a sexist pig and maybe even a racist for… not really very much.

Aaron Sorkin knows the weight of last words, and his last words to me, as we walk-and-talk out of the HBO press room, are: “Write something nice.” He says this in the “Smile, honey” tone of much less successful jerks.

Okay so we’re indicting him for his tone of voice? Maybe it was a really offensive tone of voice. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Like the whole piece, it’s out of context.

In between that there’s a whole bunch of stuff like this…

At the short end of a TV season dominated, if not by shows about girls and women, by talk about shows about girls and women, Sorkin’s new drama The Newsroom arrives with a “Hey, remember how great America was when it wasn’t just a man’s world, but a man’s man’s world?”

Is that really the message of The Newsroom?

I’ll concede that Sorkin is probably sexist, but is Hey America, We’re Going Back to the He-Male 50’s Where Women Are in the Kitchen really the message of the show?

Is The Newsroom not allowed to exist because Girls is on? What about Game of Thrones? Or True Blood?

In the bits of the interview that we get, Sorkin starts out being a jerk. Then Sarah Nicole Prickett hits him with, well aren’t you a tool of the patriarchy longing for the days when white men ran the world. That’s perhaps not the exact question she asks him, but it’s close enough.

Sorkin doesn’t see this. He denies being either an ideologue or a modernist, agreeing only that the show is written in his voice, and that said voice is “authorial” (both my word and his). I’d posit that creating an authorial drama in a time of mumbling, precarious, voice-of-a-generation comedy almost absolutely constitutes an ideology, one both modernist and masculinist. But conveniently, at that moment, the interview’s over.

This is college sophomore entrapment. This is, you’re guilty because you’re doing what you’ve always been doing, but it’s running against a social current that I just defined as the norm for you to defy.

This is Oleanna reasoning and I hate that play, but I also hate people who play this game.

Sorkin sees a challenge to his authority and lashes out in a childish way. The way he lashes out plays into Sarah Nicole Prickett’s agenda. And a meme is born.

“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 say also, factually, “I have aNew 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.”

Sorkin winds up proving her point, that he’s threatened by women and reacts by confronting them physically. Prickett is wrong in her reasoning, but the confrontation makes it seem like she’s right. That’s also an old trick of sensationalistic reporters.  Sorkin loses because he doesn’t really understand the game, even though he’s done countless interviews and is making a show about the media.

Prickett understands news in the Gawker era and she taught Sorkin a lesson that he probably didn’t learn, but she also showed that there’s no reason to read her or to listen to Sorkin.

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