I am a big, fat Aaron Sorkin fan. There. I said it. I don't feel like that needs to be defended.
Not only have I got The West Wing virtually memorized, I come from a family that's got The West Wing virtually memorized. I have taken to the internet comments sections to defend him from the avalanche of often unfair criticisms thrown at him, and, it seems, no other contemporary television writer.
Rightly or wrongly, people don't watch Sorkin shows. They internalize them. That's not something that happens to a Breaking Bad, The Wire or Mad Men or their writers.
This week Sorkin's in the news for the op-ed he penned for The New York Times, slamming news outlets for publishing emails gleaned from the hacking of Sony Pictures. Much of it is just gossip.
Beyond being a Sorkin fan, I'm also a former foreign correspondent and international television news freelancer.
Predictably, some news outlets and the internet at large has fought back against Sorkin's charges that they were "morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable" by publishing the leaks. They argue, for the most part, that the leaks are culturally relevant. And since the information's already out there, why not publish it?
But that reaction sidesteps Sorkin's central point.
North Korea, a rogue state with a nuclear weapons program the rest of the world has spent years trying to curtail -- that periodically threatens Japan by lobbing a missile toward it -- is believed to be behind the Sony hack. (The missiles have never been armed with an actual warhead.)
Of course, it's murkier than that. The hack was carried out by a group called "Guardians of Peace." North Korea denies it's behind the group that's angry at the upcoming release of the Sony Pictures film, The Interview, about an assassination plot against Kim Jong Un. But that denial comes after several threats made against Sony, including calling the release of the film "an act of war" and threatening "resolute and merciless response."
Go ahead and Google the term, "Six Party Talks." Stopping North Korea from nuking someone has probably been the single most unified diplomatic effort of the past decade plus. Russia, China, the US, Japan, South Korea are all trying to contain North Korea -- and we know how often Russia, China and the US play on the same team.
(A quick aside: It's wrong to conflate the Sony hack with the NSA scandal, in which Edward Snowden is considered by many to be a heroic whistleblower. In a democracy, the government is supposed to be transparent and accountable to the people. It's not supposed to be using illegal surveillance against them. The individual - or the company - is entitled to privacy. That's the Fourth Amendment.
"Outing" our elected officials for alleged crimes or systematic wrongdoing is whistleblowing. Hacking a private entity's emails is not. There's a double-standard here, precisely because, in a democracy, there's meant to be. )
If indeed it was North Korea that hacked Sony Pictures?
This is a massive cyber-crime carried out by a pariah state against a US company.
By releasing the material in the hacked emails, all the media outlets who participated may have just done Kim Jong Un a massive favor.
Kim Jong Un is an international punchline. People don't take the threat North Korea presents in the region quite simply because he is so wacky. (Full disclosure: I've "written funny" about North Korea, too.)
Sony of course, has to take a share of the blame, because that is exactly what they banked on by making a stoner movie about James Franco and Seth Rogen assassinating him. Oh, that wacky Kim Jong Un! He'll sell tickets.
But imagine for a moment if a US company were hacked by another rogue state demagogue - one who doesn't serve as comic relief. Russia's Vladimir Putin. Ayatollah al-Khameini in Iran. Or Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
Then would everyone think it's so funny if Western media outlets did their bidding?
Assad's bombing Syrian school children with chlorine bombs, but that's not what's important here. Did you hear what Scott Rudin thinks about Angelina Jolie?
Vladimir Putin blew a commercial airliner out of the sky, but we'll go ahead and help sabotage the US company he's pissed at. Maybe next time it'll be a defense contractor!
North Korea hacked a US company while remaining a serious threat against our ally, Japan, while at the same time starving and terrorizing its own people! Aaron Sorkin likes Tom Cruise!
What's potentially going on is bigger than Sony, Sorkin, Jolie, Pascal, Rudin, et al.
In Hollywood circles, it appears, this scandal is resonating exactly like the junior high school cafeteria it sounds like. In cultural circles, yes, there's some validity to questions being raised about race and gender issues by the people who control so much of what we consume in the life-imitating-art-imitating-life ellipsis.
In security circles, cyber-crime has analysts scared to death. (It comes at roughly the same time a computer glitch in the UK shut down airspace over London. What if that were hackers?) If a rogue state was behind the Sony Pictures hack - and the source of the hacking goes unexamined by those who share that material - then yes, the world just got a little bit more dangerous, not just for Hollywood big-wigs, but for everyone.