Thats What She Said

I'm supposed to be doing something else right now.

Thank you Aaron Sorkin (And just so you know, I LIKED Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip) April 16, 2007

Filed under: *Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good,*i joined the what now? — thats what she said @ 11:14 am

So I spent the majority of my weekend watching Season Three of The West Wing on DVD.  Lest you think me a total bum, I should also say that I attended a slightly intimidating party in a loft, did three loads of laundry and made green curry chicken.  But pretty much when I wasn’t doing those other things, I was watching The West Wing. 

I’m a fan of TV.  Let’s just put that out there right now.  I don’t think it should replace human parents, or, you know, other relationships with real people, and I just can’t get behind American Idol, but I think its an incredibly powerful medium, and that used appropriately it can be both massively entertaining and educational.  (I also think that was the LONGEST sentence ever written, and that most likely none of it is grammatically correct.  And that I am pretty unconcerned with both those facts.  The irony of this will become apparent later.)  Obviously TV must be used in moderation—but the same thing is true about scotch and nacho cheese sauce and I’m a big fan of those too.

I’ve already waxed poetical on the sheer genius of America’s Next Top Model (perhaps the best argument for the continuation of Reality TV in existence) and Lost (a life preserver in a sea of Reality TV crap, a show that dared take on that most challenging of feats—hiring actual writers—and reminded America that the enjoyment of looking at beautiful people on a beach can actually be enhanced by a plot).  These two shows are wonderful, both in entirely different ways, and watching them makes me happy.  

Watching The West Wing though, that does something else to me entirely.  For one thing nearly every episode makes me cry.  Now admittedly, a poorly constructed Kleenex commerical could make me cry.  I am prone to both laughter and tears as a response to many, many things in life, and frankly, I like that about myself.  Maybe you like that about me too?  If not, well, don’t sit next to me when I watch The West Wing.

Honestly people, I don’t mean to be cheesy, but I think this show represents everything that is great and possible and flawed about this country.  Actually, you know what?  I do mean to be cheesy.  I think that patriotism is a really cheesy feeling, in the best possible sense of the word.  It’s a throat swelling, hand on your chest, blood pounding in your ears kind of feeling.  It’s pride on such a massive scale that it’s impossible to contain it in a single human being. 

It feels uncool to admit to such a feeling, let alone to admit to liking it to the point of seeking it out.  It feels like I should be affecting the same aura of bored detachment much of my generation feels when the subject of politics comes up.   But even when I’m not watching The West Wing I don’t feel bored or detached from politics.  I feel the opposite.  I feel deeply and personally involved in my country’s fate. 

I want to feel inspired by my government, and by the people in charge of this country’s fate.   And all partisansim aside (as much as it can be pushed aside anyway) I do not feel comforted by George W. Bush, and I do not trust his administration.  I don’t find solace in his folksy charm,  or reassurance in his attempt to be ‘one of the people’.  I do not want my president to be ‘one of the people’.  I want him (or HER, but that’s another entry entirely) to be larger than life.  To know things that I don’t know and to be able to convey ideas to me in way that leaves me feeling respectful and a little bit in awe.  I am not claiming to know more than President Bush, but I am also not claiming to know less, and that fact saddens me more than I can say.    

I guess my point is that watching this show, fictional or not, reminds me of the kind of person I want to be, and of the kind of country I want to live in.  I realize the ridiculous amount of idealism inherent in both the show and that statement.  What I don’t understand is why so often people scoff at the power of idealism in effecting change, as if they wish to give the entire concept a friendly pat on the head and then move on to more useful tools like aggression or corporate sponsorship.  What is more American than unabashed idealism?  Where would this country be without it?  England, that’s where.

I want so badly to feel as though I’m being led by a group of smart and capable people.  If those people also happen to be good looking and terribly witty, that probably wouldn’t hurt.  I suppose the point of this rambling and possibly (unintentionally!) pretentious entry is this:  watching this show makes me feel like there is hope.  It makes me feel like the only possible way to affect change is to get out there and do it.  To BECOME the smart capable person (I wouldn’t mind also becoming better looking and terribly witty) and to join in the fray. 

Thanks Aaron Sorkin, for portraying a White House that is classy and relevant and hopeful.  Even if it isn’t real.  You’ve got to envision the world you’d like to inhabit before you can create it.  And if you can see that vision on TV, then so much the better.

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9 Responses to “Thank you Aaron Sorkin (And just so you know, I LIKED Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip)”

  1. ewe guess Says:

    ya know what makes me all tingly and patriotic inside? Red Dawn. Best movie of all time. Though, I’m embarassed to say, Love Actually is a very close second… And both make me cry. It’s apparently genetic.

  2. You know, I’ve seen Red Dawn. More than once. And since it’s feature length, I’d say that equals out to at least two episodes of The West Wing…would you like me to choose episodes that feature Republicans?

    I do have to agree with you about Love Actually though. And I will now fess up to the fact that not only have I seen What A Girl Wants, I have enjoyed it. I still maintain that it is one of the worst movie titles ever though.

  3. Grandmaster Flash Says:

    “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.” – Edward R. Murrow

  4. ewe guess Says:

    So, I watched the Media Research Center’s top ten left wing west wing clips… doesn’t that mean I’ve suffered enough? And I wasn’t going to bring up What A Girl Wants because you abuse me so over it.

    You can tell me the ones with republicans in them so long as they aren’t left wing imaginings of republicans (racist bigot homophobe polluting capitalists who would sell their female parents or weapons to our enemies if it would mean an extra quarter in the ol’ bank account).

    I left Wales about 11am Tuesday, and it’s now 1am Thurs here in HK, and I slept 3 hours on the flight then went straight to the airplane for testing here, making it to the hotel around midnight so I could take 40 minutes typing up an e-mail back to Wales because a few of the people there are incapable of comparing two lists and coming up with the differences. And I have to be in a taxi by 730am for another glorious 14 hours or so of testing tomorrow. And that would be whining but I feel better for it. good night.

  5. Kit Kat Says:

    You should be a political speech writer, and I’m not jokin’.

  6. Kit Kat: Aw shucks.

    Ewe Guess: Perhaps you would be pleased to find out that the episode that introduces the prominent Republican character (who by the why is smart, funny, and good looking, just like the rest of the–Democratic–cast) features her giving one of the West Wingers a good old fashion whomping. In a debate. On TV. So they hire her. This is why I like the show. If I want to see Republicans represented by ‘racist bigot homophobe polluting capitalists’ I can always listen Rush Limbaugh. You may now disown me. :)

  7. ewe guess Says:

    you listen to rush, and I’ll watch the west wing…

  8. What if we both just watch What A Girl Wants?

  9. ewe guess Says:

    that will not lead to you becoming a mind-numbed robot receiving your daily marching orders from rush like the rest of the ditto-heads.

    well, it might be a little mind-numbing.


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