A Damn Good Shot

TV series
Mad Men
The West Wing

Harry Potter
The Social Network

Aaron Sorkin

tumblr essays

  1. Saturday, April 5th 2014
  2. On Spoilers

    (This post contains no actual spoilers.)

    Something happened on your favourite TV show last night.

    Don’t worry, I won’t tell you what happened.

    But boy did something happen.

    In the age of Twitter, spoiler etiquette is more important than ever.

    Unfortunately, many, including the most prominent TV, movie, and book critics, fail to grasp spoilers on a basic, fundamental level—even though not spoiling the reviewed work is the sole rule all critics must honour.

    One vice is giving in to the urge to react to an episode, followed by the urge to share the reaction.

    Some share multilaterally by discussing their reactions with other people in public—Twitter, Tumblr, the watercooler.

    But they couldn’t possibly spoil “it” for other people, so “something” becomes "that thing". You may even fashion the conversation with an acronym—hashtagged, of course. They will never know!

    Then retweeting and -blogging features enter the picture and amplify everything a thousandfold.

    Saying that something happened implies an extraordinary event. For most TV shows, this means someone died. I’m not entirely sure what it says about you that you presume me so dense that I can’t parse your brilliant crypto-spoiler. You’re the Mt. Gox of spoilers.

    And let’s not forget the common cryptographic variations on the turn of phrase:

    • The episode was a “shocker”, “surprise” or “bombshell”.
    • It had “a twist”.
    • "Major plot development".
    • "Just finished watching X. Whoa.”
    • "How were the people behind X able to keep the secret for so long?”

    I’d research the examples more, but, you know, I didn’t want to ruin more shows for me than you already have.

    Is it my prerogative to reveal that this season’s episode was not like the others? In doing so, I deprive people of the same feelings that impelled me to share the information to begin with.

    I could go on and write a long, academic piece on spoilers, but I won’t.

    Because let’s be honest.

    It’s not rocket science.

    Spoiler alert.

  3. Discuss
  4. Sunday, August 18th 2013
  5. The site turned 5 today! How time flies.

    The site turned 5 today! How time flies.

    (Source: assets)

  6. Discuss
  7. Saturday, August 17th 2013
  8. I don’t take photographs on vacations. My wife gets very angry. I say “No, move a little, oh. Should we wait? We should wait.” And, I can’t, I can’t; I go “It’s the wrong lens!” “Just take the picture!”

    So, I can’t; I have never taken a photo in a family … I’m a terrible … I’m a terrible family man.

    Guillermo del Toro (~4 minutes in).
  9. Discuss
  10. Sunday, August 4th 2013
  11. “[Y]ou don’t want to see some corporate thing; you want to see something that has a strong, unique sensibility from a person that made it.“
  12. Discuss
  13. Sunday, July 21st 2013
  14. Temporary Social Media—Snapchat Blog

    Beyond the ‘right to forget’, what about the possible erosion of the obligation to remember?

    When we applaud not having records of our own embarrassing past, a document of how we’ve changed over time as individuals, we are equally celebrating the cultural norm that expects perfection, normalization, and unchanging behavior. What if more people wore past identities more proudly? We could erode the norm of identity consistency, a norm no one lives up to anyways, and embrace change and growth for its own sake. Perhaps the popularity of social media will force more people to confront the reality that identity isn’t and can’t be flawlessly consistent.

    Framing data deletion as about hiding from one’s past might actually further the stigma of a little digital dirt, that being human and changing is something to be ashamed of. A healthier attitude towards our documented pasts would be to embrace how different we were before, even if there are significant mistakes. Change could be seen as not a flaw but a positive, as evidence of growth; an identity feature rather than a flaw.

    Here are the articles linked in the post:

    1. “Networked Privacy”
    2. “Safe in Our Archives”
    3. “The Right to Be Forgotten”
    4. “Glad I Didn’t Have Facebook in High School!”
    5. “Pics and It Didn’t Happen”
    6. “The Faux-Vintage Photo: Full Essay (Parts I, II and III)”
  15. Discuss
  16. Tuesday, June 25th 2013
  17. What Instagram Video Means

    Three years ago, I worried what the advent of video post-processing meant for recording our lives in raw, unretouched detail. Roger Ebert replied to my concern:

    Now everyone is a filmmaker. Maybe that means home movies can no longer be considered naive recordings of a time and place.

    Three years later, Instagram is on everyone’s lips, and hot off the presses are comments on the launch of their new video service. I’ve read two great articles that tie the launch together with my original thoughts, and I recommend you read them in full.

    Jenna Wortham’s piece in the New York Times, "Instagram Video and the Death of Fantasy", is chock-full of insights, and my favourite. Some highlights that don’t do it justice.

    Instagram is a yearbook of our most memorable moments, not because they’re the moments worth remembering, but because they’re the moments worth projecting and sharing.
    The introduction of video sharing on Instagram feels like the latest indicator of that disconnect. Video is imperfect. It’s a lot harder to craft a perfect video of your outdoor picnic, of waves crashing at the beach. It takes a lot more thought to turn the everyday quotidian into the spectacular, regardless of the dozen filters, editing effects and smoothing software that Instagram’s new video feature offers.

    In "Instagram and the Impulse to Capture Every Moment", Matt Buchanan muses on the sharing philosophy of keepsake versus ephemera, and what it means for what is shared.

    Instagram content is designed to be shared; Snapchat is designed to be real.

    It seems our the raw details of our lives once recorded for posterity have been displaced by a choice between ephemeral truth or preserved fiction.

  18. Discuss
  19. Thursday, May 23rd 2013
  20. 8:36pm|reblogged from Celebrity Close-Up:

jon hamm


    jon hamm

  21. Discuss
  22. Monday, January 28th 2013
  23. 12:17am|reblogged from Celebrity Close-Up:

january jones


    january jones

  24. Discuss
  25. Tuesday, June 26th 2012
  26. Oops.

  27. Discuss
  28. Sunday, June 24th 2012
  29. 10:30pm|reblogged from The New Yorker:

If you’re planning to watch Aaron Sorkin’s new show “The Newsroom,” which premieres tonight on HBO, you may want to think again:


    If you’re planning to watch Aaron Sorkin’s new show “The Newsroom,” which premieres tonight on HBO, you may want to think again:

  30. Discuss
  31. Wednesday, June 20th 2012
  32. Firewall & Iceberg on Aaron Sorkin’s New Show

    In this podcast, Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom is subjected to a round of criticism, chief of which is the tone of smugness and the unrealistic main character.

  33. Discuss
  34. Friday, December 30th 2011
  35. This is always what I wanted to do. What I love about it, I love the sound of dialogue, I love writing dialogue. My parents took me to see plays all the time as I grew up, and lots of times I was too young to understand the play—I saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when I was nine, but I loved the dialogue, it just sounded like music to me, I wanted to imitate that sound.

    As a result of my introduction to it being dialogue and not story-telling and never being one of those guys sitting around the campfire and “I’ve got a million of ’em, let me tell you a story” … My Achilles heel is plot, which sometimes I consider this necessary intrusion on what I really want to do which is write dialogue, and that’s why I talk about just “build the car first” and then I get to do the kinds of things that I want to.

    —Aaron Sorkin on The Hollywood Reporter’s Award Season Roundtable Series: The Writers Uncensored. (There must be a place in one of the circles of Hell where people are forced to transcribe Aaron Sorkin interviews.)
  36. Discuss
  37. Wednesday, July 20th 2011
  38. Aaron Sorkin and Truth

    I came upon an old account of Sorkin’s quirky internet forum forays that most likely effected his luddite philosophy after some back-and-forth arguments between the two parties that did not make Sorkin stand out very well to say the least. The forum’s meticulous analyses of the show have unraveled aspects of The West Wing that I did not notice when I watched the show years ago. I implore everyone to read the post for all its points and the presentation of Aaron Sorkin that will differ from what you will be used to reading. One of the points conveniently elaborates on my critique of Sorkin’s writing as theatricality over reality and poetry over prose. In the sixteenth episode of season four titled “The U.S. Poet Laureate”, the laureate, Tabitha Fortis, channels Sorkin’s voice in a soliloquy, as his characters are wont to do:

    An artist’s job is to captivate you for however long we’ve asked for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky, and I don’t get to decide what truth is. (…) I write poetry, Toby; that’s how I enter the world.
    Res ipsa loquitur. Quoth Aaron Sorkin himself:
    I and everyone else here are, honestly, thrilled that there are these fan sites where strangers get together and talk about the show and like the show/don’t like the show (I’d prefer if you liked the show) but you ought to disabuse yourselves of the notion that what we do is debate a point and then declare a winner. We’re just telling our little stories and doing our lame jokes. And hoping you’ll keep tuning in.
  39. Discuss
  40. Monday, July 18th 2011
  41. My Fundamental Problem with “The West Wing”

    The aforementioned quote by Aaron Sorkin led me to conceive of the best way to formulate my problem with the otherwise great show The West Wing.

    President Bartlet is obviously too likable and one-sidedly good to be anything like a realistic president—the same which can be said about everyone around him, all of whom are in line with Sorkin’ melodramatic atmosphere and cadenced dialogue replete with orchestral fanfare.

    The fundamental problem harks back to the maxim attributed to Mario Cuomo: “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” Sorkin’s world is at odds with the gritty reality of prose, and the presidential term of Bartlet is governed by as much poetry as his presidential re-election campaign.

    Even if people weren’t familiar with Cuomo’s maxim, many will still understand the meaning of it today in the wake of Barack Obama’s campaign and painfully pragmatic presidency—regardless of where you find yourself in the political spectrum.

    Politics is about killing your darlings, forging tenuous alliances and getting people to like you—not because of who you are, but in spite of.

    Bartlet is infallible. No real person is—least of all an accomplished president.

  42. Discuss
  43. Tuesday, July 12th 2011
  44. “My parents took me to see plays, starting when I was very, very little, and I was too young to understand Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when I was nine years old, but I loved the sound of dialogue; it sounded like music to me, and I wanted to imitate that sound. So, as a result, I am very weak when it comes to plot, because I didn’t understand what was going on on stage, but I do enjoy writing dialogue that sounds like something.“

    Aaron Sorkin on the bonus material of The Social Network.

    I am glad to see that he admits to this, because I find that he tends to fictionalize reality in a fashion that prefers theatricality to reality.

  45. Discuss
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