The axe finally fell on Studio 60 today, as NBC announced their new lineup and Aaron Sorkin was nowhere to be found. Full disclosure: one of our best friends David was a director on the show, and my stepsister Cyia was a regular guest star, so I followed its fate pretty closely.
Web sites like Defamer wasted no time in urinating on the Studio 60 epitaph, when really, they should be crying. No other show provided them so many opportunities to heap scorn on Sorkin, and one wonders what else they’ll have to write about now that Lindsay Lohan appears to be sober.
Seriously, what is it with otherwise-smart people hating Aaron Sorkin so much? Admittedly, the show would have dissolved on its own, but the unfathomable amount of shit-talking by writers, media pundits and blogs certainly didn’t help matters. Here’s what Sorkin set out to do: write a literate, funny, fast-talking, intelligent show. If you think he failed, that’s one thing, but the wave of opprobrium started way before the first episode ever aired. With each week, as the ratings dwindled, the haters licked their chops.
Well, they got what they wanted. “Studio 60” is off the air! To be replaced by… more episodes of “Deal or No Deal.” The next time any of these people complain about how stupid television is, they can seriously fuck off, because they only have themselves to blame. Sorkin tried to do something smart, and all he got was a load of shit (and yes, a lot of money – was that the problem?).
And don’t give me that tired old argument about ‘Studio 60’: “Why should we care about a bunch of wealthy producers trying to put on a comedy show?” Nobody asked the same question of “Desperate Housewives”! Why should we care about a bunch of doctor interns on “Grey’s Anatomy”? Why should we care if the world is saved on “Heroes”? In fact, why do we care about any television show at all? I mean, they’re all fictitious people, for fuck’s sake, and it was shot on sound stages in Burbank!
The rancor directed at “Studio 60” is a new type of criticism invented by my generation, and brought to its logical conclusion by Generation Y: straight-up anti-intellectual nihilism. The only people who do it well are Matt and Trey on “South Park” – everyone else is just drowning in a sea of their own snark.
Snark and anti-intellectualism are kissing cousins, except that the most snarky are the ones who should know better. They hate shows like “Studio 60” for trying too hard, yet have an ironic attachment to talentless vacuums like Paris Hilton. They think they’re overeducated, but if they were forced to elucidate an actual view on spiritualism, politics or even basic geometry, they’ll find their deductive muscles atrophied from years of sarcasm.
I read sites like Defamer, Gawker and the like out of industry obligation (hell, it’s how I found out my agent got fired a few years back), but it’s obvious they’re what happens when angry college radio DJs accidentally get control of culture. After 4-5 articles, I always feel like asking asking them if they actually love… anything. Does any work of art, let alone a television show, make them shiver with anticipation? Do they ever cry when something heartbreaking happens?
I know, I know, I’m going to the whorehouse when I’m looking for love. But it seems like everywhere you look for media criticism, there’s nothing but whorehouses. Snark is the worst thing that has happened to mainstream and alternative journalism in the last ten years. The only people I can stand to read anymore is our very own Virginia Heffernan at the NYT and the ThighMaster at Thighs Wide Shut, because both of them unabashedly love what they cover. Virginia eviscerated “Notes From the Underbelly” not out of mean-spiritedness, but out of betrayal.
These New Media Critics will read a blog like this and treat it the same way they treat all threats to their comfort: with offhanded derision. I’m here to say I’d like the Snark Era to be over. I’d like everyone to get psyched again. I’ve had it with the Underminer, the Flippant, the Too Cool for School, the Lazy Fetishist and the Easily Bored. You can make fun of the canon only if you know the canon. Leave Aaron Sorkin alone and save your schadenfreude for those most deserving: Republicans and Dook.