In Case You Missed It of the Day: Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom debuted Sunday night to mostly poor reviews, but no matter – here’s the most predictably Sorkin-esque scene, in which Jeff Daniels argues against American greatness.
[Not Safe For Work — Daniels gets ALL riled up.)
Dear Mr. Sorkin,
You know, your main character—or should I say avatar?—derisively mentions that America leads the world in adults who believe in angels. I sincerely hope you consider yourself part of that demographic, Mr. Sorkin; it could not be more clear that you have deified a version of the United States of America that never existed, and moreover have elevated those individuals that have come to represent the myth to a place “deserving” of worship.
You say that once, America stood up for what was right; you say that once, America fought for moral reasons. When I look at the history of the country I live in, I run into Manifest Destiny; I find the histories of our systemic oppression of indigenous Americans; I find our incursions into Vietnam and Korea, both for our own ends; I find imperialism, colonialism, and the incredibly pervasive idea that it was our job—our duty—to invade, takeover, and subjugate other countries to our will, all in the name of freedom. Are these the moral reasons you’re talking about, sir? Have I, perhaps, missed a memo?
You say that once, Americans waged war on poverty, not on poor people—really, Mr. Sorkin? When was that, exactly? Was it when we allowed sweatshops to grow and flourish, turning a blind eye to the abusive conditions occurring inside of them on a daily basis? Was it during the rise of unsafe, unregulated tenement housing? Was it during the period of time when slavery ran rampant in this country, which—lest you forget—was, from a historical perspective, pretty fucking recently? What about after slavery, Mr. Sorkin? Do the Jim Crow laws and the people they oppressed, both financially and otherwise, fit into your sunny worldview of a country that battled poverty, but treated its poor with respect? Do they, sir? Do they really?
You want to talk about aspiring to intelligence; you want to talk about caring for our neighbors; you want to glorify a time when people “didn’t scare so easy,” where people sacrificed, where America didn’t beat its chest. I may be part of the worst (period) generation (period) ever (period), but I’ll tell you what, Mr. Sorkin: I’ve done my goddamn homework on the nation whose flag I pledged my allegiance to every day for twelve years, and the country you believe in never existed. Like you, sir, America has had moments of shining brilliance and glorious talent, and like you, sir, America has always tended to be blinded by her own arrogance. This country has some great history, but it also has some really terrible history, and its ignoring that truth is dangerous and limiting and deeply wrong, whether you want to admit it or not.
Here’s the deal, Mr. Sorkin: my first political awareness dates to watching your show, The West Wing, with my father on Wednesday nights. By all accounts, you are an egotistical, misogynistic, self-aggrandizing bastard, but I have chosen to consume the media you produce anyway, because, until now, I’ve been able to find some merit in it—and, hey, because you helped shaped me and quite a bit of the rest of the generation you here called the worst ever. But if you’re going to have the nerve to produce the scene I just watched, then I have this to say: America is too goddamn old for your prostrate worship of Great White Male to be relevant. It’s gross, and it’s wrong, and it’s boring, and it’s contributing to the very problem you seem so intent on arguing against. I love my country, sir, but not the version of her you seem to have imagined. To love that version of America…well. It wouldn’t be loving America at all.
You say the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one, Mr. Sorkin, so here’s my advice: buy a mirror, and shut the hell up.