Friday, May 14, 2010

Aaron Sorkin, WTF?

"West Wing" writer/creator Aaron Sorkin has strangely come to the defense of Ramin Setoodeh and his homophobic rant over at Newsweek.

Sort of.

Here's the link:

Sorkin defends Setoodeh, but still says he is wrong, as are all the angry people (like myself) who are upset by Setoodeh's Newsweek article, "Straight Jacket", which proposes that openly gay actors are not equipped to play straight roles.

We have all "missed the point", apparently.

Sorkin's advice is to direct our anger at... bigots. And our voyeuristic culture. Oh, and Congress.

Uh, OK. Already doing that. Thanks.

But we should not direct any anger at Setoodeh, who apparently is a misdirected, innocent lamb that just happens to write a column for Newsweek that is read by millions of people.

Sorkin blames Setoodeh's brand of internalized homophobia on our reality TV/Entertainment Weekly culture that cannot separate an actor's personal life from the roles that he plays.

And Sorkin's prescription? He basically recommends that gay actors stay in the closet, so as to avoid this nasty occurrence and maintain a "blank canvas" for their public, after making the jaded, but sadly true statement that gay actors "know that even in 2010 there is no such thing as an actor who is gay, a movie star and alive all at the same time."

Oy. You know, there are some behaviors that an actor would need to hide: murder, incest, public sex with barnyard animals. But being gay is NOT one of them.

And Sorkin agrees with that.

Sort of.

It's tricky to understand WHAT, exactly, Sorkin thinks is right or wrong here.

He is clearly opposed, or says he is, to all the bigotry and gay bashing. But he also seems to think that gay actors should stay in the closet. Not, mind you, because there's anything WRONG with being gay, it's just that so many people are homophobic in our culture, or just obsessed with gayness, that it would destroy their careers.

It reminds me of the "don't ask, don't tell" General who didn't want his gay son in the army because the army is a homophobic institution and always would be. Better to exclude gay people than change an unchangeable culture.

But ultimately, Ramin Setoodeh is NOT on my side, as Sorkin would suggest. He's a homophobe. And anyone who agrees with him is a homophobe.

And sure, Congress should pass more laws, and people shouldn't hold up signs that say "God Hates Fags" and we shouldn't care, as Setoodeh does, that a gay actor is playing someone straight. And we shouldn't be engrossed in gossip and the minutiae of an actor's life, as well.

But I don't see how those things are mutually exclusive. I don't see why I can't abhor Setoodeh's opinions AND all those other things. Why, as Sorkin suggests, does it need to be one or the other?

Why are all those other things homophobic, while Setoodeh is just "wrong"? Couldn't they just ALL be homophobic?

Why am I "missing the point", when really I am trying to address ALL the points, Setoodeh being one of them?

And ultimately, why should a writer who has a powerful position at a major national news weekly be given a free pass and forgiveness for writing what is clearly a bigoted, misguided, sloppy piece of garbage? And, no, it doesn't matter to me that he's gay.

I think Sorkins' heart might be in the right place, but I really just don't understand where he is coming from here.

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