Aaron Sorkin might not ever be able to live down his recent interview with The Globe and Mail's Sarah Nicole Prickett. (Especially because most critics think his new HBO show, The Newsroom, isn't good enough to act as a distraction.) And, hopefully, he won't, because her piece is a fantastic portrait of a man who is so narrow-minded when it comes to his belief in his work — profiling Great White Men (capitals necessary) — that he can't fathom why condescending to a 20-something reporter might come back to bite him in the ass.
And maybe it hasn't; maybe Sorkin doesn't care how sexist and supercilious he comes off in the article. But this "Internet Girl" might not be able to watch her favorite West Wing reruns without recalling how its creator told Prickett to "write something nice" in what she calls "the 'Smile, honey' tone of much less successful jerks." Prickett, thankfully, didn't write something nice; she wrote the truth. For example:
[...] my first question starts, "I watched the pilot twice ... " But I don't get to the question part because Sorkin looks as if he wants to say something. I invite him to do so, and he asks, "Because you liked it so much the first time, or because you didn't understand it the first time?"
So huge is the hubris in thinking anyone smart enough to write about this show for a national newspaper might not be yet smart enough to understand it (should you fret about your own Sorkin-fathoming abilities, let me say that if you read Don Quixote in the ninth grade or studied American History in the 11th, you will be fine) that I just swallow and tell my own truth.
Prickett says, "No, I think that there might be a third way, which is that if you're going to write about something, you have to look at it more than once." (Uh, duh.) When she tells Sorkin that she liked the show but because of what it says about America, not about television news, which she feels is less relevant than internet news, he not only doesn't agree but doesn't care; he tells her he longs for pre-Vietnam, pre-Watergate days, which Prickett points out may have been more innocent but were also more hospitable to white male heroes, "masculine iconoclasts with traditional top-down power." She writes:
At the short end of a TV season dominated, if not by shows about girls and women, by talk about shows about girls and women, Sorkin's new drama The Newsroom arrives with a "Hey, remember how great America was when it wasn't just a man's world, but a man's man's world?"
These days, even the fastest walk-and-talkers might find it hard to brush aside lady reporters. Not that Sorkin doesn't try:
Listen here, Internet girl," he says, getting up. "It wouldn't kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while." I'm not sure how he's forgotten that I am writing for a newspaper [...] I say also, factually, "I have a New York Times subscription and an HBO subscription. Any other advice?"
He looks surprised, then high-fives me. Being not a person who high-fives or generally makes physical contact with interview subjects, I look more surprised.
"I'm sick of girls who don't know how to high-five," he says. He makes me try to do it "properly," six times. He also makes me laugh; I'm nervous, and it's so absurd. He loves it. He says, "Let me manhandle you." Then he ambles off, hoping I'll write something nice, as though he has never known how the news works, how many stories can be true.
Thanks, Sarah, for ignoring his patronizing pleas — from "Internet Girls" around the world.
How to get under Aaron Sorkin's skin (and also, how to high-five properly) [Globe and Mail]