By Matthew Soderberg | News Editor
Aaron Sorkin is the master of the political drama; he shows this with his repertoire of “A Few Good Men,” “The American President,” “The West Wing,” “The Social Network,” “Moneyball,” “The Newsroom,” “Steve Jobs” and most recently, his exegesis: “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
That’s just the highlights. On top of his love for the word “the” in most of his titles, the man uses morality and virtue as the building blocks of beautifully written narratives.
The way I view the world and the way I write have been monumentally shaped by the movies and television shows he has written. There’s just something about the way characters think and talk when they are created by him.
“The West Wing” is a foundational document in my desire to pursue journalism. It isn’t because it’s a leftist portrayal of the president, but more so because the characters just want to do good for the world. They recognize the importance of their work and how it bleeds through to the rest of their lives. I recently tried to get my fiancée to watch it with me. It wasn’t for her, but that show was made for me.
After he finished off his first run of explicitly political material, Sorkin turned to the world of business to show just how political everything is. In “The Social Network,” he showed off how young and hungry entrepreneurs will cannibalize themselves for fame and power. In “Moneyball,” new ideas are scoffed at before they become the revolutionary standard. “Steve Jobs” takes the form of a three-part opera/tragedy where a man rises, falls and triumphs over the objections of his inner circle.
The thing Sorkin most understands in this world is how people talk — or at least how they should talk — to each other. It’s one rapid exchange after another with jokes and references tossed in for kicks. Each character is always one step ahead of the next in a way that pushes the narrative forward flawlessly.
Every conversation feels like it’s happening at the wittiest witness stand in history, so it only makes sense for perhaps his most political work to take place in a courtroom. That’s where his powers truly shine: with “A Few Good Men,” Sorkin launched his career off the back of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson shouting in a courtroom. It’s only fitting that he would return to the theater once more.
What connects me most to Sorkin is his optimism. From the content he’s produced in the last 30 years, he has screamed from the rooftops that if people just talk to each other, we can make the world a better place.
I truly believe that. I think communication is key in anything — from relationships to government to journalism. And that gives me hope in the future of this country. If you look at the most polarizing periods in our history (the 1860s and 1960s), did bad things happen? Yes. Did good things come out of that strife? Absolutely.
I can only dream that good things will come out of this polarization the country is going through now. Apathy is no way to live through this world, and if Sorkin says in order to be a driving force to make the world better, I’ll keep pushing on.