#InterrogationSoDumb: Readers all across the planet thought we were making it up.
Surely, these people thought, there has never been an actual interview anywhere near that dumb! No one has ever said something as silly as what's shown in the passage we're posting again down below.
We're all rational animals here! For that reason, many readers falsely assumed that no one is really this dumb:
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!People assumed that it couldn't be true! Surely, no one has ever actually thought that Harper Lee's famous and fictional novel actually ends with a murder which gets covered up—the murder of Bob Ewell.
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?
Surely, no one who ever read the book ever thought that's the way the book ends. For that reason, no one ever thought that Atticus Finch proceeded to "cover up" that murder—that he thereby became "complicit in a crime," joining a judge and a sheriff—or at least, so readers assumed.
Our readers were right in one way. In reality, no one who ever read Harper Lee's book ever thought any such thing as that.
That includes David Sims, The Atlantic's overwrought movie/drama critic. It also includes Aaron Sorkin, the creator of endless "middle American" TV pap.
And yet, in an interview piece which appeared in The Atlantic just last month, Sorkin and Sims swore a childish blood oath, insisting they believe these things about the Harper Lee novel. And they didn't just say that they believe that utter foolishness now. They claimed that this is something they had "forgotten" about the book.
Allegedly, it's what they believed when they first read the book! Recently, they have remembered these facts.
Sorkin and Sims had "forgotten" about the way Atticus took part in a crime. We're going to file this under a hashtag:
Let's get clear on some actual facts. At the end of Harper Lee's book, Bob Ewell is rather plainly killed, apparently by Boo Radley.
But no one has ever actually thought that this killing—done to save the lives of two children—should be seen as a murder. For that reason, no one ever actually thought that Atticus Finch and Sheriff Tate were "covering up a murder" when they agreed to pretend that the vicious Ewell simply "fell on his knife."
No one ever thought that! No eighth-grade student ever thought that, not even the ridiculous Sorkin. No eighth-grade teacher was ever complicit in hiding such facts from their students.
Aaron Sorkin didn't think that when he was in eighth grade. In that sense, he hadn't "forgotten" that Mockingbird ends that way until he recently reread the book, preparatory to his latest attack on his country's intelligence quotient.
No one ever harbored the thoughts to which Sims and Sorkin now attest! This raises the question of why these two dopes are pushing this story line now.
Why is Sorkin saying these things? Unless you're a modern upper-end "journalist," questions of that type have always been hard to answer.
This much is clear, however. At some point in the past few years, Sorkin decided to do an "adaptation" of Harper Lee's famous book for staging on Broadway.
As best we can tell, isn't clear whether Lee was fully competent when she gave producer Scott Rudin permission to do this. It is clear that the Broadway adaptation which has now run a full year has "had its way" with Lee's famous book, sometimes in ways which are almost as strange as Sorkin and Sims' murder tale.
As you probably know, Harper Lee had written a novel, and her novel was fictional. Atticus Finch was a fictional character within her fictional tale.
He behaved in certain fictional ways. He held certain fictional beliefs, displayed certain fictional attitudes.
Sorkin, though, had many better ideas. He proceeded to write a play which uses the name of Lee's book and the names of her characters. And yet, so many things have changed!
What other sorts of things have been changed? Consider something the actor Ed Harris said to Sims in that same interview piece.
When Sorkin's "adaptation" debuted on Broadway, Jeff Daniels was cast in the role of Atticus Finch. The part is currently being played by Harris. Speaking with Sims, he described one of his favorite scenes in the new, improved play:
HARRIS (12/17/19): One of my favorite things that Aaron did is the tension between Atticus and Calpurnia. And the reason for that tension is that when Atticus tells her he’s going to defend Tom Robinson, she isn’t “grateful” enough and he says “You’re welcome” under his breath. And she calls him on it! That scene really resonates for me because it says so much about Atticus and his real motivations.For ourselves, we haven't seen the Sorkin adaptation. The ticket price is extremely high, with the money sliding into various pockets.
That said, many reviewers of the play mention the "new attitudes" to which Harris alludes. It isn't just that the play ends with Atticus covering up a murder. Along the way he sasses Calpurnia, in a way which "says so much about Atticus and his real motivations."
Question! Did Atticus Finch, a fictional character, actually have any "real motivations" other than the motivations Lee wrote into her book?
Inquiring minds could discuss such questions forever! But just as Sorkin somehow remembered that Atticus covered up a murder, he has also apparently come to see how undesirable his various attitudes and behaviors actually were or are, especially on matters involving race.
Finch's attitudes have changed; so have his various actions. Writing in the Financial Times, Max McGuinness described a few of these changes when the play debuted:
MCGUINNESS (12/13/18): [T]he Atticus on stage here is more Sorkin’s creature than Lee’s. In Jeff Daniels’ portrayal, the novel’s shrewd and saintly widower becomes a flawed and somewhat diffident figure with an exaggerated faith in the power of the law.It isn't just that Atticus covers up a murder and shows his true colors regarding race by muttering at Calpurnia. Unlike the Atticus of the novel, he dumbly believes that Tom Robinson will surely receive a fair trial in the Alabama of 1935.
As in the novel, Atticus is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black labourer accused of raping a white teenager, Mayella Ewell. But Sorkin makes some crucial changes: Atticus here replaces another unseen lawyer who had negotiated a plea bargain that would have saved Tom from the death penalty in exchange for a hefty sentence. He then persuades Tom to fight to clear his name. And whereas the novel’s Atticus knows that he cannot win the case and has at best “a reasonable chance” of overturning a guilty verdict on appeal, Sorkin’s Atticus seems naively and even recklessly convinced that justice will be done. Atticus—a model of restraint in the novel—also nearly comes to blows with Mayella’s father and actual rapist Bob.
Under the hash tag #AtticusSoDumb, Sorkin's version of Finch even consigns Robinson to his fate by getting him to rescind a plea deal which would have saved his life. The plea deal didn't exist in the book. Neither did the "unseen lawyer" who is now said to have negotiated it.
We haven't yet reached the largest of Sorkin's adaptations—the recovered memory in which Atticus Finch loves loves loves Bob Ewell, who now seems to be the "actual rapist."
Did Lee's character love Bob Ewell? We'll examine that excavation tomorrow. Eventually, we'll show you Sorkin's explanation for the way he has recovered all these "forgotten" elements of Lee's famous book.
Why, though, would someone create an "adaptation" of a novel in which so many basic elements are changed? Why didn't Sorkin take The Financial Times' advice and simply "write an original play?"
The answer may lie in a key word, "interrogation," variants of which pops up three times in Sims' strange interview piece.
Sorkin, one of our dumbest sachems, may think he's staging an interrogation of a famous book! We'd file his effort under two hashtags:
We'd start with #InterrogationGoneWild. After that, we'd move on to a very key word, and that key word is "dumb."
Tomorrow: Atticus [HEART] Bob Ewell! #SorkinSoDumb