I Was The Bully: The Newsroom Thread

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Yes. Yes you were. But that’s the thing. You’re always the bully. And you’re always the victim. And you’re always trying to navigate a world that doesn’t make any sense at all, because if the world isn’t monstrous, if the world makes sense, then why did this have to happen to you?

Something like that marks you, and you spend your life negotiating with it. That doesn’t make you good or bad, or the person who did that to you good or bad. It makes you alive, and just like everyone else. I’m writing a novel about this now, about how we’re all getting over something.

Spoilers, comparisons to comic book movies, and a conversation with Mr. A about sexism, inside. This one cut pretty deep.

Quick takes: So the argument being made about Internet comments is exactly the wrong one. It isn’t that we’re anonymous, or that we’re not. It’s that news organizations that will cheerfully lecture us about being the gatekeepers of the morals of all society will then elevate random comments in an effort to seem hip and happening. I heart the Internet and all you anonymous commenters tremendously, but given the caliber of most random shit that gets posted on news sites picking out one or two bits of it to see what’s “trending online” is embarrassing, like your parents using slang.

When did Don become my favorite? Like when the fuck did this happen? He’s such an asshole, but most of the time he’s the only one who stands up for Maggie and Sloan and Neal and Elliott, and even Jim, and he’s the only one who gave it to Will in the first episode when even Will, now, admits he richly deserves it. The look on his face, in Sloan’s almost-empty office, just killed me.

I’m calling this right now, because I’ve seen television before: The first season ends the way the first season of the West Wing ended, with an assassination attempt. I’d love to be wrong, but again, we’re building to something, some moment of transformation, and a bullet does that easier than anything else.

The therapist was Mr. Universe from Serenity! I’d let him poke around inside my head. I love that guy.

Mr. A’s comment on the show is this: The men act like morons, but the women specifically look foolish for it, and I can’t say he’s entirely wrong. I’m not talking about ooh, Gucci, because you are allowed as a chick to have all the PhDs and still like fancy clothes. We were talking about Mackenzie specifically, and how unlike CJ Cregg before her, there’s not been enough done to show off her badassery, to counteract the wackiness. I think part of it is that Mackenzie was in the field, and now she’s not and there’s simply not as much to show her doing, but if we could send her to Afghanistan or something, that would go a long way to fixing this problem.

Neal continues to own my heart and soul.


I don’t believe for a minute that Will hit back. That it happened the way he says it happened. Not exactly.

So there’s a line fromThe Dark Knight Rises that’s been ringing in my head for days (be patient, I’ll get there) and it’s when Joseph Gordon-Leavitt’s cop is talking to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne about being an orphan, about what it was like “to be angry in your bones.” Because that put words to something I’ve been trying to place my whole life, that directionless tension that says another blow’s just around the corner and if I brace for it, lean into it, throw punches at it, I won’t be hurt.Angry in your bones. Angry in the marrow, in the sinew, in the blood. Spoiling for it, fearing it, the most poisonous combination possible, seeping from your skin.

I don’t believe for a minute that Will hit back. If you hit back, you don’t spend your whole life thinking about how you should have hit back. You don’t replay that moment over and over, when you could have stopped it and didn’t. You don’t look for opportunities, and find themfucking everywhere, to have the fight you didn’t have that time. You don’t spend your whole sleepless, compulsively successful, cheerleader-fucking life having the fight you didn’t have.

With some political operative, telling HIM to hit back. That’s all Will was saying, in that interview. That’s all he was saying. He was practically begging that guy to get up and fight. Fight Rick Santorum, who thinks you areless than. Get up, get up and fight, because I am eleven years old and always will be, and I shouldn’t have to do this for you. I shouldn’t have to stop you from getting hit. Get up and fight.

With Sloan, telling her to call out the liars and the cowards and those who just plain can’t face up to the truth. Get up, he was telling her, get up and fight. Forget your reputation, your inexperience, your constraints and understandings and get up and fight. Forget your obligations and promises to your source. Get out there and hit back.

Here’s the thing: You can’t have any fight twice. We don’t get do-overs. Trying to replay long-ago trauma on a large scale, trying to make it a reason or an excuse, using it as a foundation or a crutch, is always a losing proposition, beacuse it’sover now. You could have picked up a bottle of Dewars and smacked him across the face. Doesn’t mean you can burn a source on live TV, or make somebody’s political affiliation and potential self-hatred an opportunity for instruction. Forget if it’s right or wrong. It doesn’twork. What happens is what happened to Will: The guy looks him in the face and says don’t tell me what fights to have. Don’t tell me to do what you couldn’t. Don’t tell me who to hit and how. This is my fight, not yours.

No fight happens over and over, except in your head, and most of us never figure that out. We end up sleepless, angry in our bones, going over and over the punches we didn’t throw.

A.

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