Aaron Sorkin's No Good, Very Bad Year

If you're a longtime listener you'll remember that a few of the staff have a, lets say, complicated relationship with Aaron Sorkin. So in a year where he releases both a movie and a West Wing reunion special, there was a non-zero chance that we'd need to podcast about him. Join Rob and Gita as they discuss The West Wing Reunion, a special that has the cast of The West Wing slip into their old roles with ease, with writing that magnifies some of Sorkin's odd characterizations of the woman in the show. After the break, they discuss The Trial of the Chicago Seven, where Sorkin's editorial choices of what to include from this historic event and what to alter lay bare his unimaginative neoliberalism while simultaneously attempting to co-opt a moment where staunch leftists were harassed while the country watched along.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jgqdz3/aaron-sorkins-no-good-very-bad-year

One thing I found interesting about this movie (and I only mean “interesting”, not good, you can skip this movie, it isn’t good) is that Tom Hayden is obviously Sorkin’s mouthpiece. But he’s also the least sympathetic character, the least charismatic, and generally the stupidest asshole on the “good guy” team. Abbie Hoffman isn’t just the character I’ll like the most because of political biases, he’s written to be the most fun character.

At the very least, Sorkin might be recognizing that he’s past his prime and the world has left him behind. He cast himself as the square loser that nobody likes. And that would be fine, if he didn’t have Hayden say, do a long rant about how “hippies” ruined liberal politics for a half a century and showed what he really thinks. That he is not humbled at all, actually. Finally Sorkin has the movie center around a grammar technicality that only an English major could follow, thus forcing the cool leftists to admit to Hayden/Sorkin how they are also cool.

And ultimately Sorkin’s worldview still wins out. Because while it sure seems like the government is irredeemably evil… oh that was just temporary. A few bad apples here and there. Everybody gets off in the end. Look how well the system works even when it doesn’t work.

It was so fitting that I watched this movie the day after the election while trying to ignore the poll results that showed Biden barely winning. It was the Sorkin ending. You can ignore how severely broken all this shit is and was just because good triumphed briefly in the end… for some people. The Chicago cops never get questioned, the FBI police state is not attacked, Vietnam continues to be bombed, and Nixon will die peacefully after a life of lawlessness. The justice is so temporary and so thin, yet it works as long as you keep one eye closed and move the goalposts.

Happy Biden Administration, btw.


Honestly, no thank you.