Aaron Sorkin Is a Smart Man

I really liked Aaron Sorkin’s piece in The Huffington Post today. He starts out talking about a gay critic who doesn’t think that Sean Hayes, a gay actor, should be able to play a straight character in a Broadway production of Promises, Promises. The critic has been accused of homophobia but Sorkin believes the situation is indicative of a bigger problem — that we’ve become far too wrapped up in the personal lives of celebrities and that we’re no longer able to separate their personalities from their art.

As someone who is totally uninterested in celebrity gossip, I wholeheartedly agree. Here’s some of the good parts of the article:

The problem doesn’t have anything to do with sexual preference. The problem has everything to do with the fact that we know too much about each other and we care too much about what we know. In one short decade we have been reconditioned to be entertained by the most private areas of other people’s lives. We’ve become the family dog who’s allowed to eat anything that falls on the floor, and the press is the little kid in the family who keeps dropping food. Sandy Bullock’s life falls apart? That’s for us. A golfer gets caught with strippers? We’ll take that, thank you. Lindsay Lohan’s an alcoholic? Mmm, mmm good! When Jennifer Aniston plays a movie character who’s looking for love, her performance — always sublime — doesn’t stand a chance against the real story we’ve been told it’s okay to pay attention to, which is that Jennifer Aniston is looking for love. I can’t hum a single John Mayer song but I can name five women he’s slept with. Sean, for Setoodeh, the show began before you even showed up to the theater that night.

The volcanic eruption of tabloids, Internet insanity and — you better believe it — reality TV, has de-creepyized voyeurism. More than that, it’s made the private lives of public people — in the vocabulary of television writers — the “A” story. And in a not-so-convoluted way, the “A” story has an author — thousands of authors in an extraordinary collaboration. When I need the audience to know that a piece of information they’re about to hear is important, I can use words, a close-up, a push-in, music… when the authors of the no-longer-private-lives “A” story want the audience to know that something’s important, it shows up on our Yahoo homepage. (The third story on my homepage yesterday was that Britain, our closest ally, has a new Prime Minister. The first story was about Justin Bieber. Unless the new Prime Minister is Justin Bieber, something’s obviously gone wrong.) Is Sean Hayes’ sexuality relevant to his performance? It has to be — the “authors” told us it was important. (Though Setoodeh would have done well to have asked himself if Mr. Hayes’ performance would have been any different if C.C. Baxter was in love with a man instead of Ms. Chenoweth’s Fran Kubelik. It wouldn’t have been.) (…)

So while I would never presume to tell someone how to feel, if it were me, I would re-direct my energy away from Mr. Setoodeh. (Ryan Murphy– the very gifted creator of Glee whose cast member, the invaluable Jonathan Groff, was also smacked in the teeth by Setoodeh– has called for a boycott of Newsweek. I get it completely, but I say please don’t boycott Newsweek — it’s still one of the very last places left where we can find news. Boycott the red carpet instead. You’re going to win the Emmy, Ryan, and you’re going to get the whole publicity bump that comes with it. You and your cast should proudly walk past every microphone that’s shoved in your faces. The people holding the microphones are writing the “A” story and you don’t have script approval. Boycott In Touch and Us Weekly and Brangelina Daily and every other piece of crap that makes us feel like we’re all sitting under hairdryers.)

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