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Cross-Post: Dear Aaron Sorkin: Someone Please Fix You

by Sasha Stone
July 18, 2012 9:41 AM
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I could forgive almost everything else — the bad dialogue, the needy high-schoolish romantic entanglements that feel much more like The Love Boat than a sharp Aaron Sorkin indictment of our news media. I could forgive, even, the lame notion that news people really are too caught up in their own dumb lives to focus on the news — and I could maybe even adjust to his rehashing actual recent events to show the news media how he, Aaron Sorkin, could have taken the same news and done it better. (Of course, he probably won’t show those moments when the news media did get it right — like during Hurricane Katrina, for instance).

But the aspect I can’t forgive really stuck its landing with the fourth episode.  Aaron Sorkin is a misogynist. Maybe this is already old news in the feminist circles but to me, a die hard fan, it felt like a punch to the gut; the ultimate betrayal.  ALL of the female characters on the show are objects of adoration or sex. None of them has anything interesting to say or do beyond what their relationships with the men allow. They are jealous, petty, shrill, small-minded and, yes — although they can handle the job they’ve been set up to do — they are FUCKABLE.

Let’s brush aside, for the moment, the side characters who are, again, put on screen to be bitches or obligatory romantic interests. Let’s pretend like every supporting female character wasn’t put on the show to prove Sorkin’s agenda, that women are out to ruin your life.  ”This is my thing we’re talking about,” says Will, who is meant to be playing an asshole to women but somehow manages to be the hero among his throng of anxious cunts and whores. Let’s just set all of that aside and focus on the show’s biggest, most glaring and unforgivable problem:  Emily Mortimer’s Mackenzie.

Why would the show set up the false notion that they hired the best executive producer in television only to have her act like an ex-wife or personal assistant or secretary?  This was made most clear by the way the show comes to an unfortunate, agonizing close set to the tune of Coldplay’s Fix You (That’s Sorkin saying he’ll fix the news media he loves so well!).  There is a moment we’re supposed to care about where the network has a choice to either go with the same news the other networks are following, that Gabrielle Giffords was shot dead, or whether to wait until they had a confirmed source. “I don’t feel comfortable with that,” Mackenzie says.  But she is immediately shut down by a male exec — instead of fighting her own battle and making the call, telling Will what to say, Mackenzie does what no woman in her position of authority would EVER do: she shuts up when she is told to shut up.

Earlier, Alison Pill is told to shut up and she also complies. Any woman who challenges the male characters is disregarded. Those are the kind of women allowed in Sorkin’s world. The ones who get to speak up briefly so we can watch them get shot down.  Women, you know, are ruining the world. So I’ll say what Hope Davis says, even while being painted with the bitch brush, fuck you, Aaron Sorkin.

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  • Visiter | July 26, 2012 10:00 PMReply

    "Of course, he probably won’t show those moments when the news media did get it right — like during Hurricane Katrina, for instance."

    Do you mean when the media was reporting widespread murder and rape?

  • F.P. | July 20, 2012 4:29 PMReply

    Ugh Sasha, you can re-publish Nussbaum's ridiculous hypocritical theory that the flawed 'Veep' could redeem itself in season 2, but that, only 4 episodes into 'The Newsroom,' cannot, and then you pile on, adding that your 'hero' has disappointed you for being so misogynistic towards his show's female characters, "at a time when women have to fight hard for equality in the media — only one of the nine films up for Best Picture last year was even about women at all. Women have to fight every day for validity." 1) You're comparing TV to film, and in fact, women on TV having their best year ever, considering the number of excellent contenders in all the major categories, who's running networks and prod. co.'s and creating shows. 2) 'The Newsroom' is not perfect, no show in its first 4 eps will ever be. The love triangle storyline is beyond tedious, and the normally engaging Allison Pill has been deadened by it. Sorkin has stated that the Neal character was only supposed to be in the pilot, so this racial 'theory' being offered is alarmist at best given that I'm sure most characters beyond the top 6 have been barely considered in terms of arc and character (and I frankly rather see Adina Porter on TV than not). But to over-analyze McKenzie's place in that clumsy, Coldplay'd ending of a messy episode 4 is akin to complaining that you were photographed poorly at a close family member's funeral (expect that to be a storyline on a future episode of the "excellent," "interesting," 'Girls,' and it be lauded, especially by women, because it's 'real'). 3) Most importantly, what probably pisses you off isn't that the show is presenting a bygone era, it's that it present a world you don't WANT to believe is today. But men like Will, rich and successful a-holes who think the sun rises when they open their eyes, DO bag and use and insult intelligent women, because women want to 'fix' (ironically) such difficult men - isn't that the dynamic on 'Girls' in the early going between Hannah and Adam? Isn't it odd then then that defenders of 'Girls' now hate McKenzie - because she wants to fix Will, and OH how must they feel so frustrated that she's doing something as futile as what almost every woman in some capacity wants to do for the man she she loves/d? Your frustrations with the show are about our frustrations with ourselves, and frankly that a man, instead of Lena Dunham, calls you out on it. It's the frustration that attractive/powerful men reduce us to that because we LET them, because we mold OURSELVES into that position to get closer to them, and then we resent it when they don't change. Notice how you (and many other critics) don't complain about Sloan or Leona. That's because, the small amounts we've been given about both in a short space of time suggests they are actually like the modern women we want to be. But inORDINATE amounts of ink are spilled when women stereotypes that could be true are presented. And frankly, Will was correct - any woman (or man) that wants to engage in the deadening of our culture for spurious reason, like writing takedown pieces for Jennifer Aniston tabloids or watching (or producing) Real Housewives shows, should be taken down a peg and if the reaction to that is a drink in the face, then clearly he must be right. If he wasn't, then there'd be NO reaction, and certainly not the one where the characters go running to the tabloids. THAT'S what should be getting women upset - that the women he dates are so petty, they run to the tabloids about him. But then again, read the Facebook pages of women who just broke up with a guy, and then allow your rage to be quelled for how the overrated author of 'The Social Network' has FUBAR'd a self-admitted polemic about the media before it's gotten fully underway.

  • TCinLA | July 19, 2012 7:31 PMReply

    If you think the most overrated hack of the last 30 years is a Great Writer you need to go take a reading class. Aaron Sorkin has been the same PoS asshat from the first syllable of the first word he ever put on a page. What an idiot you are, lady. But at last you finally work up to what a scum he is.

  • Tom | July 19, 2012 10:01 AMReply

    If the show disappoints you guys so much just stop watching it.
    Four episodes in and you are still bitching about it, just give up on it then and let the rest of us enjoy it.
    It's light entertainment, relax and stop treating Aaron Sorkin like the devil.

  • TCinLA | July 19, 2012 7:33 PM

    Dear Wingnut PoS: drop dead you talentless asswipe.

  • theperfectnose | July 18, 2012 6:58 PMReply

    You're not going to get very many comments with this antiquated commenting system. Get disqus already!

  • theperfectnose | July 18, 2012 6:56 PMReply

    Newsroom over uses the same lazy tropes and cliches that its main characters ostensibly abhor (lazy, easy, outrage inducing, eyeball grabbing, top 10 things about-y drama-crap).

  • Angelle | July 18, 2012 1:50 PMReply

    Tom, go sit in a well-lit room and work on your reading comprehension. You're responding to accusations the writer never made.

    The reason Sorkin is open to attacks like this is because the show is so very poorly written. In every episode, there are multiple moments when you'd swear you can see his hand up the actors' backsides, making their mouths move. And Mackenzie gets this more than anyone, although no character is safe. In this world, people say and do things not out of realistic behavior or even dramatic need, but because Sorkin wants them to. The stink of authorial intent permeates the whole show, sucks out much of the drama, and disappoints me mightily.

    Like Sasha, I really wanted to like this show. And it still has some redeeming qualities or me. But man, I wish there were more.

  • theperfectnose | July 18, 2012 6:57 PM

    You're awesome. XD

  • Tom | July 18, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    Get over yourself.
    The show is not 'hateful' towards women. You are really nitpicking here and desperately seeking hits for your article. It's just a tv show, and a very entertaining one at that.

    Was 'The Flinstones' a sexist show because it portrayed Wilma as a housewife and not an independent career driven woman? Is 'Cheers' one of the most mysoginistic shows ever produced because Diane and Carla were working in a bar that catered for the working class (yuck).

    You really need to go into a dark room, sit down and have a chat with yourself you idiot!

  • Tom | July 19, 2012 10:03 AM


    Piss off.

  • Joel | July 19, 2012 2:08 AM

    Tom, You really need to go into a dark room, sit down and have a chat with yourself you miserable misogynist douche bag. Thanks for reinforcing all the negative idiotic self-involved fratboy stereotypes about our gender, you classless dickwad.

    Sasha, thanks for your honesty. I didn't agree with everything you wrote, but you opened my eyes to some issues with this show. And I agree, you're right.

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