Sunday, November 26, 2006

Country Mouse and City Mouse and Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, for those who don't know, is all about getting revenge on an America and a Network for slights and insults. In particularly he's upset with right wing religious fundamentalists. He sees a war between secular leftists and religious fundamentalists. In essence he and Bill O'Rielly agree on the contours of this particular conflict, they just happen to be on different sides.

I am catching up on Studio 60 and just watched the two parter, entitled Nevada Day. It wasn't bad all in all, but in the middle thereis a line that Matt (played by Matthew Perry) gives to Harriet (played by Sarah Paulson) that drives me absolutely nuts. Here it is.
Well, your side hates my side because you think we think you're stupid. And my side hates your side because we think you're stupid.
That's a really stupid line. There's an element of truth to it, of course. But not much of it. I think Joe R's deconstruction of it at Television Without Pity is pretty much right on.
Wow. No. And once again, Matt, stay off my side! I know this is supposed to read as something of a mea culpa -- "You're right, we are smugly superior jackasses sometimes" -- but it's such an oversimplification that it's insulting to all sides of the debate. How many other ways could you write that sentence and still miss the mark? "Our side thinks you think we're pussies, and your side thinks we're pussies." "Your side thinks we think you're fascists, and our side thinks you're fascists." "Our side thinks you think we're faggots, and your side thinks we're faggots." Is there a grain of truth in all of them? Sure. But they are so much only a small fraction of the truth that they cease to be true at all. Way to boil down a complex argument down to a point where we all look petty and ridiculous, dude. Matt just smiles slightly, because "Hey! It's all in good fun!" And Harriet ponders it like it's this huge fucking kernel of wisdom. Whatever, Matt.
There it is. I'm not a huge fan of Television Without Pity writing on a Sorkin Show, because while it's clear that Sorkin has it in for Religious Fundamentalists, it's also clear that they have it in for Aaron Sorkin (since season 3 of the West Wing). That said, just because they are biased, doesn't mean they aren't right (in this case).

There are real and important divisions in this country. And as we move into the future some people are going to be disappointed. That's the future. The Secular Humanists and the Fundamentalist Christians can't both get what they want. On the other hand, these divisions have existed for hundreds of years in different forms. The city mouse and the country mouse. The both resent and are annoyed and look down on each other. But they also need each other. Sorkin wants to believe if we would all just admit our bullshit we could get past this. But what he fails to realize that what he's assuming is bullshit may not be. There are real reasons for the country mouse to resent the city mouse, and there are real reasons for the city mouse to be fed up with the country mouse. Reasons that can't be brushed under with simplistic (and nonsensical) statements.

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