In Saturday’s Globe and Mail, Sarah Nicole Prickett wrote a brilliant piece about writer Aaron Sorkin, creator of The Newsroom. Sorkin, the writer who created, among other things, The West Wing and Sports Night, is one of my writing heroes. Now I’m not so sure, and what’s informing that wavering is in this artful snippet of Prickett’s:
Hence, 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.
I’ve been reconsidering my Sorkin worship for a while, now, especially when considering some of the broad(er) implications of his work. This is not to say that The West Wing, Sports Night, and The American President, among other works of his, aren’t going to be sources of joy for me for years to come. They will — the man writes intelligent, interesting dialogue that snaps sharp like a salute. But still, Prickett showed him to be what he more probably is: a pompous, arrogant ass.
Actually, let me take that back — I’m okay with arrogance. I like people whose confidence occasionally morphs into arrogance, and I used to think Sorkin was one of us (see what I did there?). But what Prickett’s piece did so devastatingly well was expose that what I thought was arrogance was actually hubris. In at least that one moment, Sorkin thought of himself as just plain better than his interviewer, so much so that he insulted her. He thought, in a moment of real life, that he was larger than life. How else can you his brazen asshattery?
Moreover, if you’re a longtime fan and you extrapolate the essence of that moment, you invariably see blotches of exactly that all over his life’s work.
Anyway, all of that isn’t actually what this post is about. This post is actually about Sarah Nicole Prickett.
In that decision to “swallow” whatever indignation was going on inside of her, Prickett did something (a) I’m not that good at doing and (b) most people don’t do anymore. She took it, rolled with it, and wrote the piece she wanted to write. She didn’t get emotional about it, or, if she did, she covered it so completely in sizzling, scintillating prose we forgot that she had the option to be pissed off in the first place. But she did, and she no doubt was.
I have, in recent years, become less of a hothead. I consider my responses more than I used to, which was usually not at all. In truth I’m 1000% better than I used to be, and yet I know I can still be better, more measured, and more graceful when faced with something unpleasant. So thanks, SNP, for reminding me to work harder at being all of those things.