Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Newsroom Women

Much has already been said about the problematic dynamic of women's representation in Aaron Sorkin's newest TV show, The Newsroom. (See here, here, here, and just Google "Newsroom Women" if you want more...)

And tonight we got more of same.

Which doesn't surprise me, but here's a few things that would be quick fixes if they wanted to make it less problematic for women watching.

During the events in Egypt, it wasn't just men who were out there. Women in the square played a huge part in how the world viewed the protesters. Women were involved in the coverage. Women were involved in the political commentary. We hear mention of the women cleaning up the square, but not a single woman is shown. That could have been changed.

Additionally the reporter who was fearlessly out there to shine a light on the situation could have been a woman, as there were many reporters out there. Rather than being roughly based on Anderson Cooper, the assault could have been a fictional account about a situation like that of CBS correspondent
Lara Logan. A brutal sexual assault that leads international media to question the presence of women in combat zones would have offered a chance for Sorkin's female characters to take strong stances on issues they know too intimately. Maybe MacKenzie McHale could reveal some of her past history of reporting in conflict zones. Maybe Maggie Jordan's panic attacks could have come from a history of assault and we could hear about that back story. Maybe Sloan Sabbith could have proposed that since the Egyptian Stock Exchange would be protected - maybe that internet connection could be the link. As the economist of the bunch she'd probably be the first to think of it.

Or fine - let's make it a male reporter, with a male staff member as the voice in his ear, and another male staff member discovering another foreign correspondent who's also male to have a dialog with our male protagonist Will. But as long as we're not changing the plot - can we remove the jabs about women counting on their fingers, being so Valentine's day obsessed that the hook up buddy invades the office angrily, the associate producer who can't even look through a clear door, and the economist with advanced degrees can't propose she just attend the panel that she's most qualified to be at? Those problems are all really unnecessary. These women are so assertive at causing trouble - sending emails they shouldn't, always publishing fluff pieces, the associate producer bringing in personal drama, the main producer can't get her staff to respect her, the morning talk show lady can't even speak assertively on her own show to stop her network from internal fighting and the editor can't render a segment. The women are so good at causing trouble, but even the proactive 'I'll help my friend by buying the gift' comes off as fluffy; the 'getting the team to come together Rudy moment' is a grassroots effort not lead by the executive producer, and the economist can't manage to explain why deregulation is a problem.

It's just - annoying. And I'm seeing great reviews of Newsroom from many men on twitter, but I have yet to see a single female character I could relate to. It's hard to believe this is coming from the man to write Abigail Bartlet, CJ Cregg, Zoe Bartlet, Donna Moss, Nancy McNally and Annabeth Schott.


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