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Rewriting Sorkin, or An Experiment in How to Write a Sexy Scene about Gun Control

I used to love Aaron Sorkin. Then I grew up, and he didn’t.

No, really. Early Aaron Sorkin was great, or at the very least, new. I adored Sports Night and The West Wing, and could quote portions of text at will. I stage-managed a production of “Hidden in This Picture” in college, watching probably over thirty run-throughs of the show, and there were some jokes I laughed at every single time. The dialogue was that great; the characters were that realized.

But Studio 60 was painfully bad — bad casting, bad timing, and a thoroughly misguided vision of what was actually working on the show (I was not alone in thinking SlimyCorporateExecutive!Jack was the best damn character on the show), and his movies since then have seemed to be style over heart.

So when I heard he was doing The Newsroom — and, more specifically, when I heard about how patronizing he was to journalists, women, and anyone who doesn’t have a physical newspaper subscription — I knew that it wasn’t for me. He has great actors (Alison Pill was amazing in In Treatment), but I had no trust left that he could tell a story that wasn’t about himself. So instead of watching the show on HBO, I decided just to read the critiques.

Then I read that there’s a scene in episode 4 that goes like this:

Carrie:¬†Well, if I’m walking the streets of Manhattan and a guy your size wants to rape me, then this is gonna happen. [Aims gun at Will.]
Will: Actually, statistics show that this is going to happen. [Flips gun out of her hand and aims it at her.]
Carrie: [beat] Is it wrong that I’m turned on by this?
Will: [beat] Yes!

Sorkin. I’m a northern liberal. I hate guns. I have had panic attacks associated by being near guns. So, like you, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with guns. And this scene is so stupid, it’s making me want to defend gun-owners.

There are a number of things wrong with this scene:

  • the stupidity of carrying a loaded gun in your purse, with or without the safety on.
  • the belief that women are easily turned on by veiled rape threats at gunpoint.
  • when disarming someone pointing a gun at you, the proper reaction for the disarmed person is generally not “hawwt,” but rather, “OH FUCK MY FINGERS YOU BROKE MY FINGERS.”

Look, I’m living in Texas now. The people around me know how to handle guns. Sure, I might not agree with their reasons for wanting guns, but I know they don’t carry loaded guns in their purses (a bra-holster is far more secure) and I know that they’re not going to be holding a gun so loosely that it can be boinked right out of their hand.

This is a strawman argument, and it’s a dumb strawman argument, and when you’re so thrilled with yourself for being able to write both sides of the argument, it makes you (and your author-surrogate) look really damn lame for not being able to answer the actual arguments gun-rights activists use.

Naturally, because this is a blog, and thus a heathen device for peons who are only subverting the natural order of things, Aaron Sorkin’s never going to read this. But, as an experiment, I wrote a scene about sexy gun control arguments. You can judge my success, either at the sexy or the debate, below.


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