Space Ramblings

The Unbearable Lightness of Aaron Sorkin

And obviously I’m being sarcastic when I say this, because Aaron Sorkin is doing as much research for a Steve Jobs movie as he did for his Facebook movie.

And here comes Steve Jobs, an inventor like Thomas Edison, who invented things that we really like. I think if you juxtapose that with the complicated, oftentimes very dark life that he led, there’s gonna be a story in there. Now it’s my job to find it.

Maybe the place to start is by learning enough about Steve Jobs to know why such an analogy is sorkin stupid.

Steve Jobs had mainly design patents. He wasn’t Thomas Edison, though there were some personality and business overlaps. Comparing him to Edison is just hopelessly clueless and stupid, and shows that once again Aaron Sorkin has no clue about the topic.

Jobs was not going around inventing things. He had people who did that. Mostly what he did is tweak and refine or come up with big ideas that other people developed. And while you can say that to some degree about Edison, Thomas Edison was actually an inventor at one point. Jobs was not the guy testing light bulbs, he was the guy looking for a way to deliver a product experience that he approved of.

But this is the Sorkin Problem. He doesn’t actually try to deal with reality. He doesn’t talk about what happened. He caters and he panders to a certain demographic. He tells the kind of stories that demographic wants.

That demographic wanted a better Clinton. He gave them one in the West Wing. They wanted to hear that Facebook was created by an amoral little sociopath to screw with people. He gave them that story too. They want a liberal Republican attacking Republicans, he’ll give them that too. Now they want Steve Jobs as a troubled genius and he’ll give them that too.

There’s no surprises when you’re dealing with Aaron Sorkin. All the flashy caffeinated dialogue hides the hollowness of the material. It’s the razzle-dazzle behind which there’s nothing except cliches. All the energy and character is there only to give the audience the cliche that they want and to make them feel smart for hearing their own ideas spat back to them in the crackling dialogue that they wish they could do on their own.

The whole premise of his HBO series The Newsroom is “Why don’t more people in the news say the things that we know are right.” And that’s going to be it. Episode after episode of clever dialogues that make people feel clever about what they really believe.

The unbearable lightness of Aaron Sorkin is that he has nothing to say and he admits that in the interview. He has no ideas either. Social media was bad, but now because of the Arab Spring it’s good. By the time he gets through with Steve Jobs, Wozniak won’t even exist and the iPod will be right up there with the light bulb. It’ll be complete bullshit but the target audience will eat it up, because it reinforces their version of reality.

Aaron Sorkin does not challenge audiences. He comforts them with their self-importance. That’s why Studio 60 and Sports Night didn’t work. They followed the same formula, but they didn’t appeal enough to that self-importance. The West Wing did. The Newsroom will too. And the Steve Jobs movie will tell them that their iPod and iPad were as lifechanging for the world as they were for them.

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