Thursday, December 21, 2006

Plagiarism Police: Sorkin vs. Spy

I’m a faithful watcher of Alan Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as any reader of this blog can tell since I invented the Studio 60 Drinking Game and held a Studio 60-30 Rock Face Off. I’m also a huge fan of the late lamented Spy magazine having just read and reviewed the coffee table tribute to that snarky pioneer.

This leads to the current case in front of the Plagiarism Police®.

Docket: Aaron Sorkin vs. Spy magazine

Accusation: Lifting fictitious factoids from snarky 90s magazines.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip
"The Christmas Show"
by Aaron Sorkin
Spy, January 1991
"The Physics of Santa and His Reindeer"
by Bruce Handy et. al.
Matt: They calculated the number of homes with children and the average weight of two presents per child.

Danny: What did they find?

Matt: He would need 214,200 reindeer pulling a sled weighing 321,000 tons at 3,000 times the speed of sound.
This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound.

Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons…

We need 214,200 reindeer.

Defense: None, he has never been called on this before I just brought it up. My guess is that he would use Yellojkt Plagiarist Excuse® #4. The original Spy magazine article has been widely distributed on the internet with and without attribution. It is so you-biquitous that it merits its own Snopes page.

Closing arguments: If you are going to quote faux-facts, you should at least copy the source correctly. The article assumes two-pounds of presents, not two presents per kid. Sorkin in general plays so fast and loose with his factoids that nobody really expects him to acknowledge his sources. According to some, he barely acknowledges his co-writers.

Verdict: Dismissed for lack of interest.

Sentence: Community service is recommended. Give us more original sub-plots like the New Orleans jazz tribute and fewer ad hominem attacks on the bloggers and the internet that are Sorkin’s uncredited cowriters.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: What have you seen suspiciously cribbed from the internet?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, there's a pass on that one. But if you look at the S60 posts on Television Without Pity, you'll see that Sorkin most frequently cribs from himself.

I'm sure most TV writers do, but few are as closely scrutinized as he is.