Life Imitates 'The West Wing': Aaron Sorkin Responds to Internet Commenters

After the Social Network's deluge of positive reviews came the backlash: the film's portrayal of women is sexist, several critics said.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin responded to the claims in an appropriate venue, considering the film's Internet focus: a comments thread on a TV writer Ken Levine's blog. Sorkin defended the movie, saying it was a realistic portrait of Internet nerd culture:

It's not hard to understand how bright women could be appalled by what they saw in the movie but you have to understand that that was the very specific world I was writing about.

...

I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group of people. These aren't the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the 80's. They're very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren't women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them.)

...

I wish I could go door to door and make this explanation/apology to any woman offended by the things you've pointed out but obviously that's unrealistic so I thought the least I could do was speak directly to you.

The incident is reminiscent of an episode of Sorkin's NBC series The West Wing. Deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman realizes his admirers have created a blog in his honor—and decides to set the record straight when a commenter accuses him of not understanding how government works:



Sorkin's foray into commenting seems to have worked out better for him than for his character. Josh Lyman only irritates his critics by responding to their complaints. Levine, on the other hand, published an appreciative post in response to Sorkin's remarks.

Read the full story at Ken Levine's blog.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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