More new about Aaron Sorkin, one of our favourite film and television scriptwriters, and his latest film The Social Network.
Yesterday The (rightly) acclaimed Sorkin was CNN’s Connector of the Day and spoke to Becky Anderson about his career and the film. CNN have generously sent us this great video and transcript of the interview to share with you:
ANDERSON (voice-over): The film has received nearly unanimous praise from the critics and has topped box office in the US. Making dialogue sing, Aaron Sorkin is your Connector of the Day.
FOSTER: Becky recently caught up with the screenwriter. She began by asking him why he decided to tackle the top — tackle the topic of Facebook.
AARON SORKIN, SCREENWRITER/PRODUCER: It didn’t feel to me like the Facebook story. I don’t know much about Facebook, and I still don’t. Technology has never been that interesting to me.
But in this story, what I saw were elements that are as old as storytelling itself. Of friendship and loyalty, jealous, betrayal, power, class. Things that Aeschylus would write about, and that Shakespeare would write about, and that Paddy Chayefsky would write about. It was lucky for me that none of those people were available, so I got to write about it.
SORKIN: And to set such a classical story against such a modern backdrop was irresistible to me.
ANDERSON: Got a question from one of our viewers asking how much creative license you really took. Question from Andrea.
SORKIN: OK. Andrea, I want to make a couple of things clear, that this is a true story. It’s nonfiction. Some of the facts are in dispute, and any time there’s a — we present a fact as a fact in the movie, but that is in dispute, we make it very clear to the audience that that fact is in dispute.
This movie — there are two checkpoints. One, I have a moral compass that tells me that I can’t play fast and loose with the lives of real people and, in this case, young people. I’m not going to make up anything that’s damaging to them, or that sensationalizes anything.
But the other is a legal responsibility. It’s against the law for me to make up something that is both untrue and defamatory. A legal team the size of the London Philharmonic vetted the script to within an inch of its life.
That said, if I can just finish, people don’t speak in dialogue, and life doesn’t play itself out in a series of connected scenes that form a narrative. That’s something that a writer does. That’s what Peter Morgan did in his wonderful script for “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon,” that’s what Bill Goldman did with “All the President’s Men,” that’s what happened with Steven Zaillian and “Schindler’s List,” “Lawrence of Arabia.”
So, when you go to the movies, and it begins with the words “The following is a true story,” I would look at that movie the way you would look at a painting and not a photograph.
ANDERSON: Very good point. The viewers were get it when they see it —
ANDERSON: I know. Has Mark Zuckerberg responded in any way to this
SORKIN: You know — I’m more concerned, of course, with the audience at large than Mark. But I was really pleased that last Friday, the movie opened in the US on October 1st, and I was pleased that he shut down the Facebook offices in the afternoon. He surprised everybody by doing this, the media as well as his own employees. He bought out a movie theater, he took everyone to see the movie.
As it happens, Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Mark Zuckerberg, his cousin is a senior staffer at Facebook and works very closely with Mark. So, Jesse got an e-mail from his cousin saying that Mark truly enjoyed the parts he agreed with.
SORKIN: And I honestly —
ANDERSON: And didn’t walk out.
SORKIN: And didn’t walk — Not only didn’t walk out but — this will be more meaningful to people after they see the movie. He took the entire staff out for appletinis and made appletini the official drink of Facebook.
ANDERSON: They’ll get that. Grace from New York asks, “What, if anything, scares you the most about our increasingly connected world?”
SORKIN: OK. Well, before, Grace, I answer the question, I want to make it clear that you do not have to agree with me in order to enjoy the movie. That this movie is just as much for people who have never heard of Facebook as it is for people who check their status uptight — updates ten times a day.
But Grace, the thing that concerns me — and I accept everything that’s wonderful about social networking — but the thing that concerns me is that it may be replacing actual networking. That is it possible that social networking is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.
Is there an insincerity there? Is it a performance that we’re putting on when we put a wall post up that says “Had a girls’ night tonight, split five chocolate desserts, better hit the gym tomorrow.” Are you trying to sound like Ally McBeal there, because you know that that’s a beloved character? The 30-something single woman making it on her own and she’s got to watch her calories?
There’s an insincerity to that. We’re not showing our flaws. We’re reinventing ourselves as something that we’d like the world to see us as, but something that’s a little bit less than human.
ANDERSON: Do you enjoy a poke or appreciate a poke on Facebook these days?
SORKIN: I’m not on Facebook. I thought you were going to ask me something else.
SORKIN: And, you bet. But I’m not on Facebook.
ANDERSON: And, of course, you’re well-known for “The West Wing.” There are many people who wish Jed Bartlet could rule the world. What’s your take on the current Obama administration? And, indeed, on the threat from — well, the Tea Party?
SORKIN: My take on the Obama administration is that they are like the hotel housekeeping staff that has to come in and clean up after Led Zeppelin’s been in the room. It’s a very difficult job, and it can’t happen overnight.
My take on the Tea Party — I want them to buy tickets to the movie as much as anybody else, but I can’t be asked that question without saying that it is generic and terribly, terribly mean-spirited, bigoted, and unsophisticated anger being directed scatter shot.
FOSTER: The great Aaron Sorkin there, speaking to Becky a little earlier.
The Social Network arrives in cinemas across the UK 15th October
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