October 14, 2015
Steve Sailer: Aaron Sorkin is ‘master of the middlebrow’
Steve Sailer writes:
The reason Sorkin’s television shows are tiresome while his movies are brilliant is redundancy. Sorkin repeats himself. He uses and reuses the old screenwriting trick of “plant and payoff.” In a two-hour movie, Sorkin’s repetitiousness serves to get complex ideas across, but in a multiyear TV series it just becomes much too much.
His Steve Jobs exemplifies Sorkin’s awareness that audiences need reiteration with variation if they are to follow along. Sorkin, who started out as a playwright, constructs a backstage drama in which each of the three acts consists of the 40 minutes before Jobs goes on stage to launch a new product. Although it’s not terribly funny, the three-act structure of Steve Jobs is reminiscent of that apogee of British farce, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, in that almost exactly the same things happen three times, but with continual twists that deepen our understanding.
The 54-year-old Sorkin is the ultimate baby boomer, which makes Steve Jobs even better than The Social Network. For all of The Social Network’s brilliance, it was hard to avoid noticing that Sorkin’s screenplay, which was ostensibly about the founder of Facebook, was more about Sorkin’s own insecurities. (For example, Sorkin’s assumption that Zuckerberg must have felt like an ethnic outsider at WASPy Harvard was eye-rolling.)
But Sorkin, who wrote his first play, A Few Good Men, on cocktail napkins while bartending and then transcribed it on a second-generation Mac 512K, understands Jobs far better.