erik lundegaard

Quote of the Day: Vinny takes on Aaron Sorkin (and Neil deGrasse Tyson?)

“After watching this I've finally decided that I just don't like Aaron Sorkin. The clip pretends to rise above jingoism (but ends up falling hard for it), above a straw-man of liberalism, and instead presents a sentimental, white-washed version of US history. And it does so with the intent of rallying us all to 'remake' the US as the 'greatest country in the world'... a misguided, foolishly competitive errand if there ever was one. ...

”'If liberals are so smart, how come they lose all the time?' If you think this line is funny, enjoy it. Liberals look back at the last 100 years of politics and see huge, lasting victories: women's suffrage, major civil rights victories for blacks, winning the Cold War, creation and protection of Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid, and the widespread acceptance of gay rights. What can conservatives be proud of in that time? Give me your list; 'destroying the power of unions' better be on it.

“I'm judging Sorkin on seeing plenty of 'West Wing' and 'The Social Network.' It's feel-good, self-important drama, not drama that has much to do with the real world. His writing is catchy, like eating a bucket full of Skittles. It's juicy and gives you a little high; when it's over you just feel gross.

”This bullshit about how America didn't use to be 'afraid,' and how we 'used' to make decisions based on facts, etc. is just nauseating. Look at the Japanese internment camps during WW2, look at the Sedition laws in WW1. Look at Joe McCarthy. Americans, throughout history, like every other country in the world, ever, have always had a wide streak of fear, paranoia and irrationality. Throwing pixie dust around about how we used to be soooo strong, and how that was based on the strength of our 'core values' that we've somehow drifted away from is ridiculous. The US was incredibly strong following WW2 because we'd devoted our entire nation to the purpose of building up our military. We entered the war long after it was over, and lost a tiny fraction of our materiel and men after the rest of the major powers had crushed each other. We were the only one left standing. And we were able to do that because we basically had the Western Hemisphere to ourselves. If you swap the American People with the Russian People circa 1938, there is nothing inherently Awesome about us that would have dealt with Hitler any better than the Russians did.

“We've also had the luxury of starting modern life in 1700 on a fantastically huge, undeveloped treasure trove of natural resources. Every other major nation was surrounded by competitors, and had been developing their natural environment for hundreds if not thousands of years. The exploitation (some good, some bad) of resources in our 300+ year history has given us a titanic 'head start' in the race to become 'the greatest.' For a time following WW2, we were probably 'the greatest'... not that I give a shit about which country is 'winning' that race, nor should anyone.

”So... do I think the media should switch to reporting facts, and encouraging rational debate? Of course. It would make us wiser, and lead to better policies. Do I think Aaron Fucking Sorkin is contributing to this cause in any way? Nope. He's selling Hallmark cards.“

--my friend Uncle Vinny in a Facebook rant against the five-minute open to Aaron Sorkin's HBO series ”The Newsroom,“ which he apparently saw via Neil deGrasse Tyson's Facebook page. For the record, Mr. deGrasse Tyson posted the video because ”One of the great forces of delusion is under-informed pride of country." Here's the clip:

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Posted at 02:21 PM on Mon. Jul 30, 2012 in category Quote of the Day  


Tim wrote:

I had high hopes for The Newsroom and was somewhat annoyed/disappointed by its pilot episode, including the opening bit. That scene does embody the more arrogant elements of Sorkinism in a pretty caricaturish way. But I am really enjoying the show, it's improved over the episodes, though it remains preachy — and really, that's part of why I like it; it's whole point is really a wish-fulfillment fantasy of what we'd like cable news to actually do, which is to call out the blowhards for lying to us all the time. Sorkin's being derivative of himself almost every week — last week saw McKenzie go to Sloan for humorous expository context on the economy much like CJ went to Sam for humorous expository context on the census in West Wing, this week had Will talk to a therapist to facilitate the flashbacks of the story like Josh did a couple of times in WW — but I don't so much care, because I like the writing and the characters are gelling in an interesting fashion.

I get it — Sorkin is in-your-face and arrogant about his politics in general and that scene is particularly unsubtle — but I like it anyway.

Comment posted on Mon. Jul 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM

Jerry Grillo wrote:

Haven't seen the show, love Uncle Vinny's rant/writing. But it's definitely a stretch to say the U.S. got into WW2 “long after it was over.” Yeah, Hitler had made his fatal flaw (Russia). But 400,000-plus dead U.S. soldiers in four years of fighting ain't “long after it was over.” Someone was putting up a determined fight. Other than that, great piece. 'The greatest,' and that other bullshit jingoism — spot on.

Comment posted on Mon. Jul 30, 2012 at 04:18 PM

Uncle Vinny wrote:

Russia lost somewhere between 22 and 30 million during WW2, and more than half that count was civilians. US military deaths are a rounding error in the conflict, and I don't say that to disparage the contributions of American servicepeople there. We simply aren't taught (or quickly forget) that the war was primarily fought between Germany and Russia. Our loans and supply help to both the UK and Russia were vital to their survival, but that's a very different prospect than losing ~13% of your population to conflict, as happened in Russia.

Comment posted on Tue. Sep 10, 2013 at 04:06 PM

Alex Bradbury wrote:

I spent two months on a Soviet fishing vessel off the Oregon coast in 1977. During those two months, I was constantly barraged with talk about the “Great Patriotic War.” And movies at night about the war. No one in my generation here in the US spent that much time thinking and talking about WWII — but it eventually dawned on me that these young and middle-aged people had lost a huge portion of their families, unlike most Americans of our age. Again, not to disparage the US contribution, but Russia was devastated in comparison.

Comment posted on Tue. Sep 10, 2013 at 06:44 PM
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