Suggestions of Woke Gone Wild: Not that many days before Christmas, we read a rather peculiar interview piece right there in The Atlantic.
Much of the blame for this interview piece goes to David Sims, the magazine's apparently Brit movie critic.
Sims is so sexist that he listed Little Women as only the ninth best film of last year. This seems to suggest that he may even agree with the "idiotic" Golden Globes, who didn't honor Greta Gerwig with one of their (five) Best Director nods.
In the typical way of These Critics Today, Sims attempted to cover his tracks in his capsule review of the film. He offered a somewhat comical appraisal of the way Gerwig reworked the famous 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott—the famous book from which the film derived its name and, of course, a substantial chunk of its box office appeal:
Little Women is filled with admiration for Alcott’s characters and story, though it’s not afraid to boldly tweak some of the book’s flaws.Acording to Sims, Gerwig wasn't "afraid to boldly tweak some of the book’s flaws." This seems to include the greatly flawed way Alcott's novel ends.
Gerwig's film is filled with admiration for Alcott’s story—except for the way it ends! As everyone from Gerwig on down has now noted, Gerwig tweaked that flaw!
At any rate, Sims' sexism was stunningly clear in his ranking of Gerwig's film. In an angry display of The Woke Perhaps Gone Somewhat Wild, the New York Times' Manohla Dargis savaged the Globes for the "idiotic," sexist way they refused to honor the film.
Dargis specifically named two female-directed films which weren't sufficiently honored. In a possible instance of Woke Run Amok, the other film she named was The Farewell, a film she herself didn't include in her list of last year's 42 best!
We know—it sounds like that can't be true. But that's the sort of thing which can happen when we start letting Woke Run Wild—and yes, The Others can see us when we do this.
We've spoken so far about Sims' take on Gerwig's well-reviewed film. That said, Gerwig's film wasn't the focus of the peculiar interview piece we encountered in The Atlantic.
Sims' piece concerns another famous book which is currently being "interrogated" by one of our tribal sachems. That book is To Kill A Mockingbird, whose flaws are currently being addressed in Aaron Sorkin's Broadway adaptation.
Sorkin took his title, and the bulk of the interest in his play, from a famous 1960 novel whose flaws he has boldly addressed.
We're not quite sure why people decide to make films and plays from books they may not actually like. But we'll guess that the sacrifices these auteurs make may tweak box office receipts.
As Gerwig fixes the flaws of Little Women, Sorkin cleans up Harper Lee's novel. In last month's Atlantic piece, Sims interviewed Sorkin about the play which has now been on Broadway for an entire year.
We thought the interview with Sorkin (and with actor Ed Harris) was strange in quite a few ways. The exchange we're posting below might be the place to start our discussion.
In Lee's famous novel, one major character is a (fictional) lawyer and father whose name is Atticus Finch. In the past, he's generally been well regarded—all in spite of something Sims and Sorkin finally managed to spot.
As Sorkin notes, eighth-grade teachers were never willing to discuss Finch's most obvious sin! The bracketed material appears exactly as shown in Sims' peculiar piece:
SIMS (12/17/19): I had forgotten that To Kill a Mockingbird also ends with a crime—the [murder] of Bob Ewell [by Boo Radley, trying to protect Scout]—being covered up!Just for the record, Scout doesn't make the quoted statement in Lee's actual novel. The quoted statement is taken from Sorkin's name's-the-same play, in which the characters are finally allowed to say all kinds of things which Lee kept out of her book.
SORKIN: Isn’t it amazing? I had forgotten about it too, and I couldn’t believe it!
SIMS: It’s a story about the greatest lawyer of all time—Atticus—and he’s complicit in this crime!
SORKIN: This novel ends with, as Scout said, “the most honest and decent person in Maycomb” covering up murder with a judge and a sheriff. Why didn’t that ever come up in my eighth-grade class? I saw that and thought, Well, I can tell this exact same story, but can’t that [tension] be part of it from the beginning?
That said, tell the truth! Had you ever even noticed the fact which Sorkin and Sims had "forgotten?" Did you ever notice that To Kill A Mockingbird ends with Atticus Finch covering up a murder? The murder of Bob Ewell?
For today, two questions:
Are Aaron Sorkin and David Sims as smart as a bunch of eighth-graders? And what sorts of lessons might we learn about our species, the rational animal, from the current wave of emanations of #WokeMaybeGoneWild?
Tomorrow: Atticus sasses Cal