An Open Letter To Aaron Sorkin

Posted in Uncategorized on June 27, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

Normally I wouldn’t put this kind of thing here. But frankly, putting it on my other site was becoming a bit of a pain in the ass and I feel more comfortable posting it to an account that isn’t tied to my home address or my credit card information.

While there’s a short clip at the top of this post, this letter was written in response to Mr. Sorkin’s work (and the common reception of his work) as a whole. If Mr. Sorkin (or anyone else) would like to address my remarks, you can reply below — or find me on Facebook. It’s a website. Aaron Sorkin wrote a movie about the guy(s) who made it. My name on the website is Jeromy Oblivian (yes, everything is misspelled).

XXXX Caswell Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 

Dear Aaron Sorkin,

I should start by saying that I don’t think you’re bad. In fact, I think you’re better than most. I also think you’re a really smart dude. So do your accolades ever bother you?

Does it bug you that the social & political views you espouse in your work are applauded for being progressive & thought-provoking when they’re views that had already found their popularity 20-30 years ago? Does it irritate you that you’ve made a career writing 2 kinds of characters: thinly-veiled Sorkin surrogates and straw men set up as their tackling practice dummies? Does it ever get under your skin that dialogue plated in smugness, sarcasm and romanticism seasoned with nostalgia & tinged (but only ever so slightly) with a light sear of cynicism gets lauded as powerful writing with moments of genius?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then we have something in common.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think any of my issues with your writing are evidence of you being a bad writer. I don’t think you’re a bad writer. Many people (including myself occasionally) find your writing to be compelling despite the aforementioned “flaws” — and that’s not easy to do. I rarely find your work boring — and that puts you ahead of a lot of writers in my book. And you get your characters to talk quickly — even when they go on and on and on at length. All of those qualities are to be commended. 
But I think you’re as edgy as LL Cool J and your writing displays all the genius I see in a Toyota Camry.

At the beginning of this letter I said that I should start by saying “I don’t think you’re bad.” I felt I should start it that way and so I did. But I don’t think this is a great letter because I did something I should’ve done. I don’t think this letter deserves any awards or I should be considered a genius because I did what I “should do.” I believe that accolades and acclaim are to be reserved for works that do more than merely execute what they “should do.” So please write something that transcends your process. Write something that simultaneously challenges people while it speaks to them. Write something that surpasses ‘what works’ and finds itself in the realm of ‘what truly inspires.’ Write a script that really says something instead of just talks a lot. Write something that isn’t just better than most, but truly great. Write something that merits the description “a progressive, thought-provoking, edgy, powerful work of genius.”

I’ll take my response off the air.

Very Sincerely,
J. Oblivian



ADDED 6/28/12.

These additional comments arose during discussions that stemmed from the letter above:

In all fairness, I haven’t seen every episode of “The West Wing”. I saw roughly 30-35 episodes from the first 5 seasons and 1 episode from season 7. It’s possible that if I had seen more episodes, I’d have appreciated the show more. But I didn’t watch more episodes because 75% of the time I was overly aware of “oh, this is Sorkin doing what Sorkin does — EXACTLY, UNWAVERINGLY what Sorkin does.” And he does that well. But over a 20+ year career it seems like he only has 3 things that he knows how to do well. And that’s fine. He maneuvers through and around those 3 talents so deftly that it’s clear (to me) that he’s a talented cat. He deserves recognition and even a little bit of admiration. That doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is when he’s recognized and admired for talents/attributes that I don’t believe he has displayed or, if I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, displayed only occasionally.

I enjoyed “Sports Night”. I think the format of a sit-serio-com lends itself to his style & his strengths. But whenever I watched “The West Wing”, I kept getting the feeling (as I do from most of his work) that he was patting himself on the back for how insightful it was. Sure, it was refreshing to see a show on a major network that displayed the goings-on at the White House as what they are: a series of political games. But is that insightful? Is it challenging? Does it get anyone that isn’t already a supporter of his views to adjust or even question their own? I don’t think so. And as long as he does that, he’s pandering. It’s well-written, very entertaining pandering — but it’s still pandering, in my opinion. Pandering, no matter how well executed, gets tiresome. And I think that as long as a writer works in that mode, he or she plateaus at “good” writing. But there are so many smart people around me that don’t leave it at “he’s a good writer.” Descriptions of his talents tend to get elevated to include superlatives like “great”, “powerful”, “stunning”, “fantastic”, “amazing” and “genius.”

But I still don’t see the greatness or the genius that others see in his work. I don’t see layers. I don’t see him challenging himself or his audience. [Forgive me because I’m occasionally going to slip out of the sphere of TV/screenwriters in this next bit.] I don’t see the guts of Chayefsky or the critical introspection of Charlie Kaufman or the thematic complexity of Faulkner or the healthy abuse of his characters exhibited by a young Coppola or the critical pathos of Arthur Miller or the keen social eye of Andrea Arnold or even just the narrative bravura of “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad”. The absence of those traits doesn’t mean his writing is bad. But I think it’s what keeps it from being great. If I regularly saw just one of those qualities in his work, then I’d stand up and applaud him as one of the great dramatic writers of our time. But until then, I’m going to stay seated, willingly granting him that he rarely leaves me feeling cheated.


The Orwells

Posted in Music Videos, Tunes with tags on June 7, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

Damn kids these days. It turns out there’s still some hope for them. If you don’t believe me, check out this video for The Orwells’ “Mallrats (La La La)”:

Or maybe you’d prefer what they did with their track “Under The Flowers”:


Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

By most accounts, F–ked In Park Slope were the first to start sharing the story around the Internet. But you can read more about this fantastic new restaurant over at Grub Street New York.

In Case You Forgot…

Posted in Movies with tags , , on May 8, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

A decade before Leonardo DiCaprio showed us that he was adept and no-so-adept at tuning, Guy Pearce was running around a city, trying to remember shit & doing his best to solve a murder. So this pairing at the New Beverly tonight is- damn it, I- hold on — What was I going to say? I sat down. I started typing. I looked at- Oh yeah… What I was going to tell you was that a decade before Leonardo DiCaprio showed us that he was adept and no-so-adept at tuning, Guy Pearce was running around a city, trying to remember shit & solve a murder. So this pairing at the New Beverly tonight is- damn it, I- hold on — What was I going to say? I sat down. I started typing. I looked at- Oh yeah… So anyway, a decade before Leonardo DiCaprio showed us that he was adept and no-so-adept at tuning, Guy Pearce was running around a city, trying to remember shit while solving a murder. So this pairing at the New Beverly tonight is- damn it, I- hold on — What was I going to say? I sat down. I started typing. I looked at- Oh yeah…

Great, Now I Have To Sell Some Organs So I Can Buy Some Prints

Posted in Art with tags , , , on May 2, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

If I’m being honest, what am I going to do with some of these internal organs? Something like half of them are redundant (at least I’m hoping they are, don’t quote me on that) and I spend most of my time abusing them like they owe me money.  But I would never abuse you, Travis Bickle Triptych.  I would love you and keep you safe.  And if anyone ever tried to hurt you, I’d shave off most of my hair & shoot that bastard right in the guts.

If you’d like to see more of Vlad Rodriguez‘s renditions of God’s lonely man or any of his other work, you can check them out here.


Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

Everyone’s favorite emotionless cutie shows a horseload of emotion and does what everyone has always wanted to do: crash & smash some sort of hipster-flower-child wake — in this music video/short film that Noel Paul (of That Go) did with/for Father John Misty (of Fleet Foxes). And if you’re into this type of stuff, Father John starts his tour tomorrow in San Diego at the Casbah with Har Mar Superstar and will then be at the Natural History Museum with A.A. Bondy as part of the museum’s First Fridays Program.

Nick Waterhouse’s “Time’s All Gone”

Posted in Live Performances, Music Videos, Tunes with tags , , on May 1, 2012 by jeromyOBLIVIAN.

It’s finally available to the general public.
Use your today to pick up a copy.

Here‘s a live version (with special guest Ty Segall) of the type of stuff that awaits you.

[UPDATE: And now, right below here, is Phil Pinto‘s rowdy video for Nick’s “Some Place”.]

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