Saturday, August 25, 2012

Will McAvoy says... (with mini The Newsroom review)

'And you, sorority girl, yeah. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know. And one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about? Yosemite? We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't, ah, we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one: America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. Enough?'

-Will McAvoy (responding to the question 'What makes America the greatest country in the world?', played by Jeff Daniels, 'We Just Decided To', written by Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom, 2012)

Mini Review:  The speech quoted above kicks off The Newsroom, a clever and idealistic news-drama show from the mind of Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin, known for writing The West Wing, The Social Network, and Moneyball, has quite the reputation for his style of fast-paced and ultra-witty dialogue, which has earned him as many fans as critics. The fans say that Sorkin's style is thoughtful and refreshing, the critics say his characters aren't realistic and that he's too preachy. I find myself somewhere in the middle. The premise of The Newsroom revolves around Will McAvoy, a super popular news anchor who falls from grace after spouting off the above rant in front of a group of college students. Following a leave of absence, McAvoy returns to team up with his ex-lover Mackenzie (an executive producer), to re-create the typical news show with a new twist: Honesty, in the interest of the people. So far, I've only watched half of the first (and only) season, and I find myself with a love-hate feeling towards this show. I appreciate that the show, which at the beginning is set in 2010, incorporates real-life news stories and controveries. I feel like I'm learning something, but always remember where the information is coming from, a television show with an obvious agenda. The dialogue is a problem, but does offer some refreshing exchanges and outstanding monologue. However, for the most part, the characters do seem a bit too clever, and you can really feel the writer's own opinions coming through in each of them. Jeff Daniels, who I've previously enjoyed in Imaginary Heroes and The Lookout, is the focal point of the show and really earns it, playing a complicated know-it-all who enrages people just as much as he impresses them. I'm not sure how long this show will keep my interest, it's quite challenging and dry at times (as well as sugary-sweet and over-optimistic), but for now, I'm enjoying the intellectual drama and the refreshing attempt at telling the truth on television.

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