"I’ve always thought that there is a great female James Bond movie to be done. I’m not literally calling her Jane Bond, I mean, but a female secret agent."
Dear Aaron Sorkin,
Maybe you should work on improving the female characters on your own show before asking why there hasn’t been a female James Bond movie yet. The Newsroom, while of course well written, is blatantly sexist and has extremely weak female characters. Every woman on the show obsesses over their male counterpart or lack thereof. Sorkin gives the illusion of strong women by putting them in positions of power, like MacKenzie McHale (played by Emily Mortimer), who is the executive producer of Newsnight. While she is technically in charge, she almost always does what anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) says, and when she doesn’t it’s usually shown to be the wrong decision. She completely falls apart over Will and very rarely has a conversation that’s not about him in some way. This is the same with most if not all of the other female characters in The Newsroom
Aaron Sorkin is very good at looking like he has created and cares about strong female roles in television and film, but I’ll just leave you with this:
When asked about the lack of female protagonists in Hollywood:
“I promise you nothing but capitalism drives decision-making in Hollywood.”
“…these decisions aren’t made entirely by men. There are roughly as many women who can greenlight a film in Hollywood as there are men.”
Because we can’t trust just my opinion, let’s look at some opinions from those more qualified than myself:
An article from salon.com by Daniel D’addario.
By Allison Willmore from Indiewire
The interview mentioned in the above article where Sorkin takes it upon himself to be a condescending ass to his female interviewer, calling her an “internet girl” and asking her when she mentions watching the pilot twice, “Because you liked it so much the first time, or because you didn’t understand it the first time?
A discussion between The Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan and The Daily Beast’s Jace Lacob
By Alyssa Rosenberg from slate.com
By Margaret Lyons from vulture.com
I would also like to point out that very few, if any, episodes of The Newsroom pass the Bechdel Test which requires the presence of two or more named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.
3/8 of the main characters are female. The number of female characters is greater than the number of male characters. Out of all the anchors we see 1/2 are female. 46% of the journalists on the show are female compared to 36% in real life. By the way, have you even seen Sloan Sabbith? I haven’t read all of those sources, so yeah, Sorkin may have said some things which are sexist and I am not defending that, but The Newsroom as a show is not sexist.
Sloan is the closest the show comes to a strong female character. She is very knowledgeable when it comes to the stock market and economics…and that’s it. Everything else about her character is about one of two things 1) her extremely socially awkward tendencies (and how they effect her relationships with men) or 2) her sexual appeal. MacKenzie flat out tells Sloan that the main reason she hired her because of her “shapely legs”.
Ok, wow so he’s only aloud to do strong female characters? Sloan isn’t a good female character because she’s socially awkward? Do you know what? That makes her an interesting character.
She has her strong points, like the two PhDs. But she also has weaknesses, such as the social awkwardness. But you know why that makes her not only a good character, but a good role model? Because she’s constantly striving to “do better.” She picks herself up after News Night with Will McAvoy, she turns down the 4 million dollar job to be a journalist because she wants to educate the world and she takes it into her own hands to start a relationship with Don. Do you think that as a character she would be able to do all that if she was like how she was in season one?
Do you know how bad it would be if women only saw other women in the media who were flawless? It would be awful.
"Screw writing strong female characters. Write interesting ones." And Sloan is definitely interesting.
You know what? i think the idea that Sloan is the only strong female character is bullshit. I think MacKenzie is fantastically strong. It takes a hell of a lot of guts to go into a job where you know at least one person, the person you will be working the most closely with, hates you for something you did and does not want to work with you. She could have turned around and walked away when Will made it clear he didn’t want to work with her, but she didn’t. She stood her ground and reminded Will that he could do the news better than he was doing and that there is “nothing more important than a well-informed electorate”. She kept the team sticking to the plan even when the ratings dropped and the critics were harping on them. That takes a lot of guts. MacKenzie also works her ass off. Have you ever noticed the clock in her office? It often shows seven, eight am and she’s already there in the middle of work that she clearly didn’t just start, she’s there all day through an eight o clock show and often after. But a hardworking, dedicated character who stands up for what she believes in is weak? I don’t agree. Oh no, she talks about her personal life sometimes, how dare she.
Leona may be the “bad guy” in a lot of ways, but let’s estimate that she’s about the same age as Jane Fonda and let’s think about just how many women would have been in any positions of leadership at the beginning of her career. Few to none. She would have had to work her ass off to get where she is. And in the beginning of season 2, we get some hints of why she behaves the way she does, in her discussion of the SOPA problem. It’s not about being a bitch or an evil corporate thug, she’s clearly thought in great detail about how this legislation affects her company from multiple angles. She doesn’t just sit back and let shit happen, she is extremely proactive in dealing with these problems as they arise. Do I always like her methods? No. Does that mean she’s a terrible character? No. And Rebecca? Of course she seems aggressive or antagonistic through most of season two because it’s her job to poke all the holes in her clients’ stories she can before some other lawyer can do it. How in the world does that make her a bad or weak or poorly written character? She’s doing a job that she is clearly very good at.
Also, MacKenzie didn’t flat out tell Sloan “she hired her for her legs”. One, she didn’t hire her; Sloan was already working on her own show at ACN when MacKenzie got there. She asked her to come on to do five minutes a night on Will’s show because she’s intelligent AND attractive. MacKenzie knows very well that she has to “sell” economic news. It’s shitty to have to do that, but it’s the world they live in and she’s going to play the game to get what she wants. She knows that what she has to get across to the viewers is so important that she will do whatever is necessary to make them listen, and if that means getting someone hot to explain economics to the masses, then she’ll do it. It’s not like she’s asking Sloan to come on tv and read news that someone else wrote, which would indeed be solely bringing her on for her looks.
None of these female characters are interesting in their own right. When do they ever talk about something not involving one of the male characters on the show? I’ve already talked about how being in a position of power has nothing to do with strength. Leona is shown to be morally weak and easily influenced. When she does eventually do the “right” thing, it’s because Charlie and Will have shown her why she was wrong. She doesn’t come to the ethically/morally right conclusion on her own. MacKenzie “playing the game” because “it’s the world they live in” just exactly the problem. Instead of standing up to a system that says women have to be attractive in order to be taken seriously, MacKenzie conforms to it. She does nothing to challenge the male dominated world Sorkin put her in.
"None of these female characters are interesting in their own right." Your opinion. Stop acting like this is incontrovertible fact that cannot be argued with. just because you or some tv critic says it is so does not make it so. You don’t find them interesting, I do. It doesn’t make you RIGHT. That’s why it’s opinion, not fact.
"When do they ever talk about something not involving one of the male characters on the show?" When does anyone on this show talk about something not involving any other character on the show? I don’t agree that a show has to pass the Bechdel test in order to be a good show. Again, it’s not like the women are sitting around talking about men and the men are sitting around talking about Important Manly Men Things.
"She does nothing to challenge the male dominated world Sorkin put her in." But she IS trying to change how the news is done. That’s her job, that’s what she cares about. I didn’t realize a female character had to address every single problem in the world to be a good character! Wow, what a standard.
THANK YOU CALLIE !!