Dear Reader (But perhaps not those of you tempted to do the Twitter equivalent of blackface humor to own the libs),
I really like the movie Good Will Hunting, despite the fact I hate it. I know that sounds weird, but I bet you have a bunch of movies like that. Well, not you over in the corner. But the rest of you. The American President is another movie I find compellingly watchable even though there’s so much of it I can’t stand.
I just cut three paragraphs of ranting about The American President from this “news”letter. Suffice it to say, the movie is everything I can’t stand about Aaron Sorkin’s stuff. He really is a very gifted writer. But he is so sure of the rightness of his views, the stupidity and villainy of those he disagrees with, and so confident that he understands politics better than anyone else, that he ends up making borderline propaganda that’s all the more effective because he pretends that he’s offering the best arguments from conservatives.
Good Will Hunting is annoying in similar ways. The main thrust of the movie is fine. It’s this one little subtheme that drives me nuts: Matt Damon’s character is a super genius, as demonstrated by his uncanny ability to solve complicated mathematical questions. That’s believable enough. Math prodigies are a thing. But we’re supposed to believe that his ability to instantaneously understand math (and organic chemistry) also applies to history and, to some extent, politics. So of course, he thinks Howard Zinn is the bomb (I am forgoing a 20-paragraph rant about Zinn).