YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

June 26, 2012

Aaron Sorkin’s [Scottish blood]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Newsroom_(U.S._TV_series), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Sorkin.

Aaron Sorkin

I watched Sorkin’s latest, The Newsroom during its debut on HBO, June 24, 2012. It was among his most improbable scripts, and a triumph in progressive chutzpah. For its mission statement is no less than the setting of America on a course that would have pleased the most significant ultra-liberal theologians of the last three centuries.

Among its implausibilities is the phenomenal memory of its lead character, “Will McAvoy” played by Jeff Daniels, who slightly resembles the author himself. “Will” is on a panel at Northwestern University, flanked by a Republican on one side, and a Democrat on the other. He is allegedly the moderate Republican who wants to please everybody. But when queried by a blonde co-ed, who hopes he will ratify her notion that America is the “greatest country in the world”, Will, at first mumbling something about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as revolutionary, switches his rap and goes off on a tirade quoting the low ranking of the US in achievements, a ratatat of rankings displaying a memory like a computer. He was coached by an unidentified woman in the audience who holds up signs indicating that we could be the greatest country in history, if we [repent ] and recognize our deficiencies. Obviously, Sorkin has designs on the HBO audience, who, sadly, probably will eat this stuff up.

Jeff Daniels

Turns out that Will McAvoy is the anchor of a nightly news show on a fictional cable network named for Atlantis (ACN). He returns to the newsroom only to discover that his staff has decamped with his co-anchor, leaving a saving remnant. Sam Waterston plays the head of the News division, and lingers on the greatness of Murrow and Cronkite, hoping to resuscitate their integrity as fearless purveyors of the truth. The rest of the episode is devoted to the astonishing feat, aided by his new, at first unwanted, “E.P.” (executive producer, “MacKenzie McHale” played by Emily Mortimer), in delivering the kind of exemplary investigative reporting that will make us proud to be liberal Americans.

We suddenly find ourselves back in summer, 2010 at the moment of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A very young producer, of Ivy League background, turns out to have contacts with both BP and Halliburton, the latter are manufacturers of the ostensibly defective concrete that allowed the catastrophe. Through the swiftly achieved cooperation of the mostly young people in the newsroom, ACN scoops the rest of the media with not only authoritative interviews with honchos, but, thanks to Will’s almost magical ability to do arithmetic in his head, gets an inspector of the oil platforms to admit that the inspection team assembled by the [evil] oil company could not possibly do its job. Competing networks, devoid of these fast-thinking, high-minded, adrenalin-hyped news gatherers, must do with limp reportage of “search and rescue” operations.

Aaron Sorkin has created two new superheroes, both with Scottish clan names. Thus Will and MacKenzie are doubles, and ex-lovers. Braveheart anyone? Not to worry about the 2012 election: America is back on the path to Freedom from Big Oil, at least on HBO at 10pm, Sunday nights. For the agenda being served by Sorkin and his affinity group, see http://tinyurl.com/7ryo95l . [Added, 7-24-12: in episode 5, Sorkin glorified the uprising  in Egypt's Tahrir Square, as well as the uprising of the teachers union in Wisconsin. In HBO "Buzz", Sorkin reaffirmed his belief in a pre-Bush America [that now has lost its way, with the rise of Fox News and the Tea Party]. Read this blog along with http://clarespark.com/2012/08/26/democratic-party-talking-points-2012/.

Emily Mortimer

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6 Comments »

  1. This is my favourite show and I watch every episode twice. But I find the sudden transformation of certain characters slightly disturbing and it somehow rendered the show inconsistent for me this season. For example, the whiny and slightly childish McKenzie from last season (remember how she begged Will about the message in her voicemail) has suddenly become this cool professional who masters every glitch during the show without panic in the first episode of Season 2. Also, the way she treats Maggie in the scene in the gym as Maggie wants to go to Africa is extremely bossy, has she suddenly gained her self-confidence at the beginning of the second season? Also Don the stubborn and cunning upstart has turned into this conscientious person who gives a fight to stop the execution of a man on death row. BTW, how about the death threats to Will? Where is the bodyguard this season? Do they think that the audience will forget about the storyline so quickly?

    Comment by Gamze O. — October 27, 2013 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  2. […] http://clarespark.com/2012/06/26/aaron-sorkins-scottish-blood/. I have now watched all nine episodes of season two, and have also read various reviews blasting the second season as “preachy” and overly mushy in the romantic love department. This blog is about cable news networks and Sorkin’s ending most of the episodes with an explanation about what we have just seen, sometimes referring to his own biography, in the season finale of season two stating outright that all the characters are based on his father, who has one foot in the past. (I surmise from this confession that he has probably undergone psychoanalysis and sees himself as a visionary Romantic.) […]

    Pingback by “The Newsroom” season two | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — September 22, 2013 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  3. When I see shows like this, it’s not the pandering that I wonder about, but the audience itself. Who are these people/? Why do they feel comfortable with this vapid good-guy, bad-guy approach to politics? The best expression of their political views comes from sit coms and stand-up comedians, which causes no embarrassment at all.. As you pointed out Clare we are dealing with some sort of Scottish cabal, but I can’t see why. The opinions of Scots should be given no particular weight. The last I heard the whole country was on the dole, and in no position to lecture anyone about anything.

    Comment by Erik Anderson — June 29, 2012 @ 2:36 am | Reply

    • The demographic is 18-24. The environmentalism, fast pacing and general irreverence appeals to young persons. The Scottish names suggest the audacity of Braveheart.

      Comment by clarespark — June 29, 2012 @ 2:39 am | Reply


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