Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s latest excuse to show off dialogue as speechwriting, debuted last night on HBO. Nobody could simply dash out the ornate dialogue that falls so effortlessly out of his characters' lips. It’s not realistic. But it’s entertaining as hell, and I loved it.
Sorkin is a world-class tipper of sacred cows – someone who runs headlong for his vision, without feeling the need to consult a rule book. For example, everybody knows that fiction needs sharply defined characters who speak their truth. If a character says something that’s “out of character” it feels manipulative and wrong. Writers can’t simply let their characters be mouthpieces for the writer’s every whim and wish. Everybody knows that.
Except Sorkin: “When you say ‘character development,’ I don’t know what you mean. I feel like you’re talking about, do I grow their hair longer? I don’t sit there and think, ‘Oh shit, C.J. wouldn’t do this.’ C.J. would do whatever I make C.J. do.” This quote is taken from a recent Slate article by David Haglund, who viewed everything Sorkin wrote and deemed him “America’s finest creator of middlebrow entertainment”.
In your line of work, there are probably a lot of things that everybody knows. Be the one who forgets those things, and march onward to progress. There’s a lot of highbrow stuff that tiptoes around every Sacred Cow in the world, but never sees the light of day.