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Twitter, Microsoft, Reddit: Imagining Aaron Sorkin's next great tech screenplays

By David Holmes , written on July 6, 2015

From The What Kind of Play Has It Been Desk

The trailer for the Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs film is out.  

As expected, it’s full of “great man” posturing and less-than-factual inventions that came not from reality but from a man Sorkin considers to possess a sense of capital-G Genius that far exceeds that of his subjects: Sorkin himself.

The longer Sorkin keeps writing, the more he repeats his dialogue tics and pet themes of nostalgia and misogyny. Amy Shumer, for instance, describes Sorkin’s attitude toward women best in her Newsroom parody “The Food Room”: “A woman’s life is worth nothing unless she’s making a great man greater.”

Now that Sorkin has applied his epic man-myth-as-workplace-drama touch to the stories behind Facebook and Apple, we wondered what other classic tech tales would look like filtered through Sorkin’s wordplay-damaged worldview:

* * * *

THREE TWITS AND A BABY: THE STORY OF BIZ, EV, DICK, AND JACK

EXT. THE NONSTOP POOL PARTY WHERE BIZ STONE AND EV WILLIAMS OF TWITTER CONDUCT ALL OF THEIR BUSINESS IS ESPECIALLY ROWDY TODAY. A PAIR OF TOPLESS WOMEN SIT ATOP TWO BACK-END DEVELOPERS’ SHOULDERS IN THE POOL AND ARE ENGAGED IN A SLAPPING MATCH. DWARF BODYBUILDERS CARRY TRAYS OF SHRIMP AND MOJITOS TO GUESTS OF THE BACCHANALIA. DESPITE THE RAUCOUS SURROUNDINGS, BIZ IS VISIBLY CONCERNED

BIZ

Gather ye rosebuds, Ev.

EV

Is that supposed to mean I should follow my heart or something?

BIZ

No, bro! It means take this “Rosebud” shot my team’s been working hard on all week. They’ve really been crushing it lately, libationally-speaking.

EV TAKES THE SHOT

EV

It tastes like a wine cooler that somebody used to put out their joint

BIZ

That’s because it’s rose wine mixed with concentrated THC. Drop it in a shot of cough syrup and it’s called a Twitter bomb. After 140 characters you won’t be able to move, let alone talk!

EV

Tite. But Biz, you wanted to talk to me about something? Also how cool is it that your name’s Biz and you’re, like, a businessman?

BIZ

Hey don’t tell anyone but it’s actually short for Biztholomew. I’m named after my grandfather who was part of the Greatest Generation and who fought in World War II, back when men were men, and women couldn’t wear pants, and wars were virtuous battles between good and evil where nobody died.

EV

Tite. But Biz I can tell something’s bothering you.

BIZ

How can you tell?

EV

Because you have that look on your face that says, “There’s something bothering me.” And you’re not wearing any pants.

BIZ

Damn, Ev, you really get me. Why can’t my girlfriend get me the way you do? It’s like we’re in this club of “great men” that includes presidential staffs and news anchors and producers on late-night live variety shows who just get each other the way women can’t.

EV

I know, and these ladies are, like, always contradicting us and poisoning our great man minds with stupid chick ideas. Remember when that woman said we should buy Instagram?

BIZ

Yeah that app’s gonna, like, totally stop growing and crash and burn any day now…

EV

So what did you want to talk to me about?

BIZ

Two words. Jack—

EV

Nicholson?

BIZ

No dude, why would it—No, it’s Dorsey. Jack Dorsey. He’s going around telling everybody he invented Twitter and now he’s trying to force you out as CEO.

EV

Jack? Invented Twitter? That’s crazy. If Jack had invented Twitter, he would have invented Twitter. But he didn’t, so he didn’t.

BIZ

Look, Jack is stupid but he’s not stupid. At the same time, he’s smart but he’s not smart.

EV

I totally get what you’re saying.

BIZ

Don’t look now…

JACK ENTERS WEARING EYELINER AND LOOKING LIKE THE DUDE FROM PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

JACK

Hey fuckers, you’re not talking about me are you?

EV

We were, Jack. I’ve been hearing some pretty messed up things about you. Like you want me out of the company.

JACK

You are out of the company. It’s done.

EV

Biz! You agreed to this?

BIZ

Yeah. I just want everybody to like me so I act super-cool with everyone but I actually have zero scruples.

DICK COSTOLO ENTERS

DICK

Hey! Hubba flubba dub bub! Zing! <fart-noise> I’m a comedian!

JACK

Meet our new CEO.

DICK

Hey yabba dabba ding dong, improv improv. This must be Ev! What kind of name is that, anyway, huh? Am I right, people?

EV

It’s short for “Every-one-of-my-friends-just-screwed-me-over”

DICK

Damn, dawg. Welp I’ll see ya in the funny papers!

EV

I’ll take that Twitter bomb now.

 

THE OPERATING SYSTEM: THE BILL GATES STORY

INT. COURTROOM. MICROSOFT CEO BILL GATES IS BEING INTERROGATED BY SPECIAL PROSECUTOR JOEL KLEIN OVER ALLEGATIONS OF ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS

KLEIN

Mr. Gates, would it be accurate to say that Microsoft doesn’t really build anything?

GATES

No, it would not be accurate.

KLEIN

Is that so?

KLEIN STEALS A GLANCE AT THE JUDGE AND GIVES HIM A WINK

KLEIN

It’s not as if Microsoft builds cars or roads or bridges or skyscrapers, the ultimate monuments to man’s greatness. Your company doesn’t even build computers.

Mr. Gates, I bet your so-called “engineers” wouldn’t even know which end of the hammer is which end of the hammer.

GATES

That doesn’t make any sense—

KLEIN

Of course it doesn’t. No, all you know are zeros and ones. You type a zero. Then a one. Then maybe the next number is another one… Or maybe not! Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Gates, it’s a zero. Does it even matter?

GATES

Yes it matters a great deal--

KLEIN

Have you ever heard, Mr Gates, of a man named Teddy Roosevelt?

GATES

Yes—

KLEIN

Of course you haven’t.. You probably went to public school, so allow me to enlighten you. Teddy Roosevelt loved good wars and great tits. But there were two things he hated more than anything else: Commies and antitrust violations.

GATES

I don’t think Teddy Roosevelt hated “commies…”

KLEIN

So you’re saying he loved commies? I’m sorry, Mr. Gates, but you must have been sick the day they taught America at America school. But hey I could talk about communists all day everyday and Sundays too but that’s not what the jury’s here to consider today.

GATES

There is no jury. It’s not that kind of court case.

KLEIN

I’m asking the questions here, Bilbo. Tell me, have you ever heard of a little game called Monopoly?

GATES

I’m familiar with it, yes.

KLEIN

It’s quite something, Monopoly. You start with two to four players, each of them with the same amount of money, the same chances for success. Capitalism at its finest, really. But then one player gets lucky – buying Boardwalk, passing GO, rolling the dice the way Shakespeare’s meant to be performed. Maybe even sneaking 20s and 100s from the bank when no one’s looking. Pretty soon, he’s got enough money and property to make sure everybody’s working for him before he finally bankrupts the lot of them.

 

But you wanna know something funny about Monopoly, Mr. Gates?

GATES

What’s that?

KLEIN

Nobody has ever actually finished a game of Monopoly. Not in the history of Milton Bradley and Jesus Christ. Because before the winner gets a chance to bankrupt his final adversary, your little baby brother or sister inevitably gets fed up and angrily flips the board over, spilling houses and hotels and deeds all over the rumpus room. And Mr. Gates, that’s what I aim to do to you and your little Monopoly.

GATES

<under his breath> My little Monopoly…

KLEIN

What’s that, Mr. Gates? Could you speak up for the jury I don’t think they heard you.

GATES

Mr. Klein, I may be many things but don’t you ever talk to me like I’m ‘other people.’ You ask me what I built? I built the modern era. Did I have to break a few eggs to make this omelet we call the future? You bet I did. You stand there in your $5,000 suit paid for by John Q Public and you ask your little questions and then you go home to your wife and kids and two-car garage and the Mac computer you bought because you thought it looked pretty.

People like you have no idea what life in the NFL is like. You call yourself an American, but America is for winners. And you hate winners because you’re not good enough to be one. You want to sit there and believe that the only reason I won is because I got lucky or cheated or both. And that’s fine. Whatever helps you sleep at night. But just admit to me now that it makes you sick to think that I succeeded through sheer intelligence and will. After all, you possess neither of those traits. And while your kids are getting participation ribbons just for showing up at the soccer match, my kids will be screwing them with their pants on. You think anybody could have invented Microsoft. But if they could’ve, they would’ve. Good day, sir, and God Bless America!

EVERYONE IN ATTENDANCE ERUPTS IN APPLAUSE AS THE JUDGE GIVES GATES A PIGGY BACK RIDE AROUND THE COURTROOM. GATES BEGINS HIGH-FIVING EVERYONE IN THE ROOM WHEN HE LOCKS EYES WITH HIS WIFE.

GATES

Melinda, behind every great man there’s a nice friendly woman he hangs out with so the world doesn’t think he’s a complete sociopath. That’s you, Melinda.

MELINDA

Thanks? So what do we tackle next, Bill?

 

GATES

You know that thing where people don’t have any money so they can’t buy stuff?

MELINDA

Um, poverty?

 

THE PAO-ER OF THE CROWD: THE REDDIT STORY

INT. OFFICE OF REDDIT COFOUNDER ALEXIS OHANIAN:  INTERIM CEO ELLEN PAO BUSTS THROUGH THE DOOR LOOKING FRAZZLED AND INSANE, AS IF SHE HADN’T SLEEP FOR DAYS

ELLEN

So you know that petition to get me fired? It’s up to a hundred.

ALEXIS

Signatures?

ELLEN

No, A hundred thousand!

ALEXIS

A hundred thousand what?

ELLEN

Signatures!

ALEXIS

Wait, then why’d you say “No” when I said signatures?

ELLEN

I just thought it had a nice verbal rhythm to it that almost sounded witty if you didn’t think about it too hard.

ALEXIS

Got it. Ellen, you look like you’ve been crying. Man trouble?

ELLEN

In a manner of speaking.

ALEXIS

You know, it’s hard for a man to feel like a man when the woman he’s dating is a big important CEO. Your boyfriend’s probably just feeling emasculated. Did you know that since women got the right to vote the sperm count of the American male has gone down 40 percent?  And since the Equal Pay Act…

ELLEN

As much as I’d love to talk civics and biology with you for ten minutes straight as if we’re in a movie and we’re beating the audience over the head with its themes, that’s not why I’m here. And besides, it’s not a boyfriend. It’s these men on Reddit! I graduated summa from Princeton. I have a law degree and an MBA from Harvard. And yet I can’t even gain the respect of a bunch of man-children who spend their days cyberbullying overweight women from their mom’s basements while they pour Mountain Dew Code Red down their ninth-grader goatees.   

ALEXIS

Ellen, you didn’t invent Reddit.. You wanna know how I know that?

ELLEN

Yeah, yeah, I know. ‘Because if I had, I would’ve invented Reddit.’

ALEXIS

No, it’s because you’re not a man. There was a time in America when men ate steak, drank beer out of cans, and watched baseball – not just the highlights on… <gulp> YouTube <vomits into his trash can> but the whole interminable three-hour ordeal, on a television that weighed 150 pounds using a grainy signal that would cut out if not for the brutish grace the man displayed in setting up the antenna just right. This was American masculinity at its finest. Who cares if he had to lift that television up three flights of stairs. Or that those “two beers after work” was slowly but surely turning into full-blown alcoholism. Or that his doctor told him that with his cholesterol he’ll be dead by 50 if he doesn’t eat a vegetable soon.

Today, that once-great ideal of manliness is stuck watching women’s soccer on an iPad while eating kale salad and drinking Kombucha. And now you want to take away the only thing he has left? The freedom to make fun of fat women on the Internet?

If an American man isn’t allowed to do that, well then, we might as well wrap up that Constitution like a giant blunt and smoke it along with all those social justice warriors.

ELLEN

I’m not sure what the 1st Amendment has to do with fostering a safe online space for people from all walks of life….

ALEXIS

With all due respect, honey, I may not be summa cumma lumma ding dong from Affirmative Action university, but I once hosted a Google Hangout about democracy in the social networking age. So with all due respect , I think we know which one of us is more qualified to handle this.

ELLEN

Gee, Alexis, when you put it that way… you’re right, I’m in way over my head. Can you fix this?

ALEXIS

Alexis is my name and fixin’ problems for women is my game.

ELLEN

And then can you fix… me?

ALEXIS

Aw, c’mere you little panda bear you!

CUT TO SIX MONTHS LATER. ELLEN WALKS DOWN THE AISLE TO MEET ALEXIS AT THE ALTAR. THE AUDIENCE SEES A FAMILIAR FACE BEHIND THE PODIUM.

VIOLENTACREZ

I now pronounce you husband and wife!