Friday, August 03, 2012

Dream On, Sorkin

AARON SORKIN AND THE MEDIA ELITE

I’ve never seen the show, but I’ve read much of late about the Aaron Sorkin penned “The Newsroom,” which gets a ton of positive publicity from the mandarins of established media. Apparently the show has a Cronkite/Rather/Brokaw-style news anchor pontificating to the mass audience from high above. One can see why the elite loves it. Their dream is a continuation of cultural, intellectual, and political business-as-usual, with a select group of “New Class” authorities telling the rest of us how to think and what to believe. It’s the old-fashioned vertical structure which is swiftly vanishing, not just in the world of television, but the realm of literature also. The news anchor played by Jeff Daniels may be the status quo with a happy face slapped onto it, but it’s still the status quo. Aristocracy more than democracy. The elite believe they can have a warm-and-fuzzy aristocracy; a benevolent intellectual dictatorship. They’re scamming one another and they’re scamming us. They’re against the always-elusive 1%, they say, but they’re never against themselves.

The same attitude, of course, dominates the established literary scene. A “New Class” nomenklatura centered in a handful of intellectual flagships like New York Times Book Review and the New York Review of Books believe they, the authorities, can continue to determine the direction of literature, and decide who are the nation’s important writers. Their choices of late have been increasingly moldy and irrelevant. (See my recent remarks regarding Ben Marcus.) There can be no peace with this crowd. They’ll never willingly give up a scintilla of their position, their monopoly of thought, their lofty privilege.

As for myself, I’m in with the mob, down with the masses, eking out an existence on the streets, but hope to someday be back with a new rebel army to wipe the mandarins and their crumbly aristocratic castles off the map. That is, if market forces don’t level their world first.

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