Aaron Sorkin, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Social Network and creator of The West Wing, was at a Writer's Guild festival in Los Angeles over the weekend, where he was asked about Hollywood's lackluster levels of inclusion of people who don't look exactly like Aaron Sorkin.
According to Variety's report from the scene, Sorkin "asserted that Hollywood is a genuine meritocracy and that he was unaware of Hollywood’s existing diversity problem," but apparently came away from the discussion "itching to learn more about the challenges many female and minorities face in regard to accessibility and opportunities."
Anyone who has paid any kind of attention to Sorkin's decades-long career as a screenwriter knows him for: his signature "walk and talk" rat-a-tat dialogue; his male leads standing in for himself and delivering sanctimonious soliloquies about how things (politics, journalism, the truth) oughta be; and brassy women whose brilliance is waiting to be unlocked by a man willing to notice them. For him to say all the following words out loud and say he is surprised, then, is him living down to our exact expectations. It's a borderline parody of our current great white male woke freakout:
“You’re saying that if you are a woman or a person of color, you have to hit it out of the park in order to get another chance?” Sorkin posed.
Upon listing women and minority writers who are actively shifting this paradigm, Sorkin pointed to a handful of those who had produced work in recent years, including Lena Dunham, Ava Duvernay, and Jordan Peele.
Genuinely troubled by his lack of awareness, he continued to ask away and ultimately offered assistance.
“What can I do [to help]?” Sorkin reportedly asked. “I do want to understand what someone like me can do…but my thing has always been: ‘If you write it, they will come.’"
Aleksander Chan is Fusion's News Director.