Say this about Aaron Sorkin: Whether you like his shows or not, you know when he’s holding the pen.
But this may be because, as one extremely obsessive Youtube video creator has demonstrated, he repeats himself – a lot.
In a fine version of the Internet’s favourite game of Watch What You Say (or in this case Write) a clever new video simply called Sorkinisms: A Supercut is going viral online.
And a supercut it is. The seven-minute video highlights dialogue that sounds remarkably recycled by jumping back and worth between Mr. Sorkin’s most famous shows and movies, from the West Wing to the short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and the underrated Sports Night.
Based on the video, Mr, Sorkin appears to have a particular fondness for phrases such as “being screwed with your pants on,” “I hate your breathing guts,” and (probably to no one’s surprise) various versions of the line, “I'm really quite something.” He also tends to favour characters slapping the heads of other characters and he even helps himself to one of his own lines for a university commencement speech he gave.
The video’s creator calls it a “playful excursion through Sorkin’s wonderful world of words.”
The reaction has been mixed: “I would take it as a critique. He is a repetitive, Johnny one note,” one viewer wrote. But many others were willing to accept that during a long career a writer might repeat himself, or have some favourite sayings. Paraphrasing, Mr. Sorkin himself, one viewer observed, “It seems that more and more Sorkin has less and less original things to say. And that doesn’t need to change because I love it.”
Mr. Sorkin’s new show, The Newsroom, recently premiered on HBO to tough reviews, to say the least. There has been much mocking of the writer’s trademark liberal soliloquies (or rants, depending on your point of view) and questioning from journalists about just how well Mr. Sorkin understands the media and the Internet.
Perhaps Mr. Sorkin has become a cliché of himself, as his critics argue. But he still managed to have one fan so dedicated that he would take the time to make such a supercut. “Reassure me please: You just put all this stuff in a text-recognition software... Right?” the creator was asked on Youtube. (Apparently, no: He just watched a lot of Sorkin shows.) And there’s something infectious about hearing characters you either loved or loved-to-hate bantering with each other – even if it’s across the time and space continuum.
Because we all know that reality television NEVER repeats itself. And those shows are sorely lacking a brilliant C.J. Cregg to deliver a well-time head slap.
Should this supercut be taken as criticism or a catalog of a writer’s tried and trusted material?