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

Women and Hollywood By Sasha Stone | Women and Hollywood July 18, 2012 at 9:41AM

I have now been caught in the ninth circle of Hell.  When the bad reviews came out about The Newsroom I couldn’t believe how harsh the critics, especially The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, had treated Sorkin. One even called for Sorkin’s Oscar to be revoked after watching the show.  I quickly wrote up how the backlash was inevitable, how anxious journalists were to finally knock Sorkin down from his pedestal.  But I was wrong.  Nussbaum and others had a right to complain. Not only is the show clumsy, badly written, badly acted, self-righteous, and deserving of all of the complaints the critics lobbed upon it, but in the final analysis, it is so hateful to women it has altered my whole opinion of Sorkin as a writer and as a thinker. I never thought that would happen; I have followed his career with the same adoring eyes as Mackenzie has done for Will.  I have called him the best writer in film. He could do no wrong with me. Until he finally did.
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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.