Aaron Sorkin is one of my favourite writers in any medium. I’d put some of his TV episodes up against some of my favourite books. I was ultimately disappointed in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but I’m sipping on tea from a travel mug emblazoned with the logo as I write this. The first four seasons of The West Wing stand as my favourite TV series ever. (Think of my House ramblings now, and imagine if I’d been blogging then. The Internet just isn’t big enough to hold all that verbosity.) I still mourn Sports Night and keep an eye on the cast wherever else they pop up. I both own the DVD of and watch every time I notice it’s on TV – which is a lot – The American President. His dialogue, his themes, his passion, it adds up to brilliance.
So I say this with love: what the hell is he thinking? The news has escaped the confines of Facebook – Aaron Sorkin is apparently writing a movie about that social networking site’s origins.
I can’t wrap my head around the idea of the man whose work frequently takes simplistic sideswipes at web-based communities, and who claims his dead grandmother is more savvy about the Internet than he is, making a movie about Facebook in the first place. Why on earth is he interested?
I kinda hope it’s not to promulgate the same views from The West Wing/Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. In real life, Sorkin has had tangles with online communities, both in trying to defend his work to fans and in trying to diminish the role of his staff writers. He seems to let his venom leak into his work occasionally, where his characters’ frustrations with online communities has been entertaining but also a little naïve.
I found Studio 60‘s earnestness over the world of television easier to take than some people, because I find a person’s passion for a subject is often interesting in itself, even if the passions or opinions don’t jibe with my own. I’m not an American politics junkie, or a sports junkie, but I couldn’t have been more interested in his previous works if they were medical dramas or whimsical parables. I guess the problem is I’m suspicious of Sorkin’s passion for the Facebook topic.
Even more odd — if it’s actually him, which it seems to be — is Sorkin’s attempt to research Facebook by announcing that he’s researching Facebook. It’s quantum physics waiting to happen; the act of observing changes the results. (Yes, I abuse this metaphor frequently, but it explains so much about life itself. And I’m a geek.) Aaron Sorkin joining Facebook as Aaron Sorkin and soliciting feedback on the Facebook experience will give him about as genuine a Facebook experience as Will Smith walking into Denny’s and evaluating the service.
However, besides the Facebook group where he has interacted with fans (and of course a few detractors), he has a Facebook profile, too, which he’s wisely made almost as private as possible. If he’s actually using it like a regular user, interacting with people he knows, that should provide the more authentic experience. Except that now all his Friends, if he decides to accumulate any, will know it’s an experiment, that they’re being monitored, and he will be evaluating his actions and interactions through a lens that no other Facebook user will experience. It’s quantum physics, I tell you.
But I have to go back to that first paragraph. I’m not innately interested in a movie about Facebook, nor am I confident in his innate passions for the subject. And yet he’s a brilliant writer. Something appeals to him about the topic, and he’s trying to absorb the experience of the topic, and a little faith is in order. If there’s anything the Internet fan community has taught me, it’s that pre-judging based on Internet rumour is unwise.
Well, maybe the lesson hasn’t quite sunk in, but I’m trying. Faith. I have faith.