Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Aaron Sorkin Whiffs

Perhaps you’ve seen “The Newsroom.” Probably, you haven’t.

“The Newsroom,” on HBO, is closing out its less than stellar run. It was the brainchild of Aaron Sorkin, the man who brought us “The West Wing,” so hopes were high for his version of a television news operation.

With a decided lack of humility Sorkin decided that he would show the world how the news should be reported. His fictional news channel, ACN would tell it like it is. It would dispense with the fluff, the filler and the bias.

As you know, the show has been a bomb. Aside from the clever, crisp dialogue--often too crisp and too clever-- it has very little to distinguish itself. Worse yet, it represents Aaron Sorkin telling everyone how to think.

Mixing art, such as it is, with propaganda is a formula for failure.

In this year’s first episode “The Newsroom” takes on the Boston marathon bombing. You recall it.

You probably also recall that some news organizations released a picture and eventually the names of two suspects who turned out not to have been involved at all.

The cautious and responsible folks at ACN did not fall for the misinformation and thus spent part of the show patting themselves on their backs.

Eventually, the ACN crew did name the two perpetrators, the Tsarnaev brothers, and reported their fates.

So far, not so bad.

And yet, the show failed to mention why the brothers did what they did. It did not even connect them with Islam or Islamist terrorism. It did not even mention that they were Muslims. 

Imagine doing a story about the Boston marathon bombing and not mentioning Islamic terrorism. You can't. Aaron Sorkin did.

Hint: when you are doing a fictionalized version of a news show and claiming that it presents the news as it ought to be presented, you should not censor what is arguably the most relevant information.

ACN can now have a new slogan: Unfair, unbalanced and afraid.


Sam L. said...

Art and propaganda? Nobody since Leni Reifenstahl can do that.

I've never watched it. 1.--I don't watch HBO. 2.--I read it was propaganda.

Aaron wants the show to be his perfect vision. That lets most everyone else out.

Ares Olympus said...

The only thing I saw about The Newsroom pilot was a Youtube clip:

The point of the scene is to show the degeneracy of the media to partisan punditry and childish propaganda, saying what people want to hear, so the news anchor finally takes off his niceness filter and says what he really things is true.

So Stuart, I'll take your word that Sorkin failed to follow through to his high ideals of following the freedom to say important things no matter what people want to hear.

Ares Olympus said...

Oh, here's another:

So Sorkin triangulated his brave newscaster as a RINO (Republican in name only) calling out fundamentalism in politics.

Certainly propaganda, but some fair facts to consider also. But its only useful if you consider yourself one of the people he's calling out. Otherwise it just makes listeners feel smug that we're not one of those delusional people.

The truth I see is that politics is primarily about fear, so its great when you can make fun of the irrational fears of others, but less fun when faced by your own irrational fears.

I don't know, if everyone's irrationality is exposed, if that improves the possibility for compromise, or merely helps expand the pull for everyone to move into their own echo chambers.

Ideally the media would mediate, but the real inconvenient truth is that "newsrooms" are already obsolete, largely irrelevant and ignored.

If I was Sorkin, I'd end the series by having the Newsroom shut down for a lack of ratings, and replaced by "Sex scandal of the week" reports, with a 5 minute weather break.