June 6, 2012
I suppose I should tell you at the outset that the notion of a hugely wealthy, privileged and powerful white guy asshole (lots of redundancy in that short phrase) preaching to the untutored, unwashed masses about what they (the filthy masses, that is, not the hugely wealthy, privileged and powerful white guy assholes) must do to find redemption and reach the Promised Land is extraordinarily likely to cause me to vomit with great violence. On the other hand, I might just laugh so hard, I collapse helplessly to the floor.
Okay. I've been on the floor for a long while. If you want to join me, peruse this NYT article about Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series, "The Newsroom." (I'm not responsible for any fits of violent vomiting. Don't bother trying to blame me for the mess, and I'm most certainly not going to clean it up.) My, but darling Aaron lives in a rarified world, peopled by the cream of the curdled cream. In this wee story, we learn a few details about the interconnectedness of the beautiful world inhabited by the fine folk of ultimate privilege. Sorkin's agent is Ari Emanuel. Isn't he the brother of, hell, what's his name, you know, that Chicago gangster? I believe he is. One of Sorkin's good, "longtime" buds is Keith Olbermann, whose life and work apparently served as inspiration in several ways for the new show. Provenance of the gods! The Times tells us: "Mr. Sorkin also visited real-world cable news shows and was embedded at MSNBCís incarnation of 'Countdown With Keith Olbermann' during the BP oil spill in 2010 when he realized he could structure episodes around events of the recent past." Embedded! Why, it's like Aaron himself is a brave, fearless journalist off to the war, fighting for The True American Ideal. And: "Mr. Sorkin also hired Margaret Judson, an assistant of Mr. Olbermannís, to act on 'The Newsroom.'" She assisted the noble Keith, and she acts! These are, like, Renaissance Superbeings. Another close connection: Chris Matthews' son, Thomas, "plays a staff member on 'The Newsroom.'" It's good to be the plutocracy!
Father Chris offers typically incisive shards of cutting insight to us dirty commoners:
Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBCís "Hardball" (whose son Thomas plays a staff member on "The Newsroom"), said Mr. Sorkinís challenge "is to find that ticktock thatís always in the background of a newsroom."The Times says that Chris has identified one of the "universal narratives" to be gleaned from this teevee show about a teevee show. And, gee, do you suspect Chris thinks that he himself is one of the Great People entitled to "tell us what the truth is"? I betcha he does. And remember, this is "high stakes" stuff! Merciful God, how would we ever grasp these infinitely complex subtleties without enlightened beings like Chris (and Aaron) to lead the way? I'm humbled.
Whereas the backstage conflicts of "Studio 60" were "not high stakes to most Americans," Mr. Matthews said, Mr. Sorkin "has to find ó and I think he will ó the high stakes in finding the truth, not just in who governs, but in who tells us what the truth is."
Sorry, I collapsed again. Moving on...
Also from the Times:
Just as "The West Wing" glamorized the American presidency, Mr. Sorkin, who turned 51 on Saturday, understands that "The Newsroom" offers a deeply romanticized depiction of a world he does not inhabit.Now, "The West Wing" certainly "glamorized the American presidency." But, hey, since Americans are cool with the idea of having an Assassin-in-Chief, I think it's vital -- even "high stakes"! -- that the Assassin-in-Chief be glamorous. Shabby fuddy-duddies as Killer-in-Chief are totally not cool, man. And the prospect of a "deeply romanticized" Keith Olbermann ... wow. This is some fantastic shit! I see Emmy written all over it.
More from the Times:
Whether Mr. Sorkin has correctly anticipated the mood of viewers as angry but ready to be inspired again, even he is not sure if he still knows how to write for them, particularly when he is not watching much current episodic TVSo Aaron thinks lots of us "ordinary" folks are "ready to be inspired again." I dunno. You want to be careful about "inspiring" Americans. Provide sufficient provocation (real or otherwise), and they might want to bomb, invade and devastate three or four more countries (in addition to the five or ten or whatever the hell it is that the U.S. is already bombing, invading and devastating). And maybe they'll decide the Kill List doesn't target people broadly enough. I'll have much more about that when I follow up on the last post.
And dear Aaron isn't "sure if he still knows how to write for them." Sweet. It's hard to write for stupid, common people. It's a finely honed skill, developed over decades of strenuous work. I would say that Aaron is The Man, but I'm sure he already knows that.
But perhaps the best passage in the Times story comes in the introduction:
The topic that Mr. Sorkin was holding forth on recently was journalism. "The commoditization of news has created an environment in which weíre told that certain things are important that simply arenít," he said in the Hollywood studio that has been his second home while he works on his new HBO series, "The Newsroom."That is, according to adorable Aaron: If only we had better (and more glamorous!) authority figures, then the dirty, stupid commoners would be sure to do exactly as they're told. Why, we might have major newspaper articles and teevee debates about how the Killer-in-Chief goes about all his killing -- and Americans won't even bat an eye.
From his dimly lighted and sumptuously appointed office, furnished not with journalism degrees but six Emmy Awards from his tenure on "The West Wing" and his Academy Award for writing "The Social Network," Mr. Sorkin recited the sins of the news-gathering business, whether trumpeting "what happened last night on 'Dancing With the Starsí or, more tragically and much more harmful, turning the Casey Anthony trial into a reality show, which just makes us meaner and dumber."
Believing that a crucial institution had lost direction, Mr. Sorkin responded the only way he knew how: by creating a TV show about it.
Huh. That's right: we're there now. As I said, much, much more about this soon, when I expand on "Future Normal." Since Aaron is already working on so many projects, I'm sure he won't mind taking on one more. He's obviously the perfect person to write and produce the "Enemy of the State" segment.
Systematic, regularized murder by secret decree won't be humdrum and dull any longer. It will be glamorous again! Throw in big production numbers -- with great costumes, sets and music, natch -- and it'll run for years. Think of it as the Holocaust directed by Busby Berkeley. Yeah, Mel Brooks already thought of that. We can now appreciate the actual order of events for our historic era: the first time as farce, the second as horrific, unending tragedy.
But glamorous -- until the blood covers your eyes, and you can't see anything any longer.