God Plays Baseball and Chess Incorrectly: Scriptnotes

On Tuesday April 4th, 2017, John August and Craig Mazin of Scriptnotes make notes of the correctness of certain details in script, covering three topics: God, chess, and baseball, and how they are dealt with in terms of screenwriting. The two also mentioned Aaron Sorkin and the mess that he found himself.

Apparently, Mr. Sorkin was quoted out of context in which he was speaking at the Writer’s Guild Association. “During [the conversation],” Craig Mazin begins, “the topic of diversity and under-representation of minority writers in Hollywood came up, and he was seemingly shocked of the idea that white male writers or directors would get free passes were other [minority] writers would not and he seemed flabbergasted by this” (August and Mazin 2017). Without going too much into the political and social of the issue, Aaron Sorkin was blasted on Twitter, as a victim of being too arrogant and of possessing the ever-so-mythical “white privateer” when asked how he could help, which was of genuine concern as opposed to the preconceived notion of arrogance. Mazin noted:

You know, in the room, his comments were recieved quiet well overall, and people were actually quiet heartened by his concerned… when you take it as an isolated comment and put it on Twitter, it does seem oblivious… Oblivion, is certainly not as bad as awareness and lack of care. It’s a weird time we live in where sometimes people are late to certain kinds of injustice and express a kind of concern and [a need to help] that is seen as a failure (Mazin and August 2017).

Mazin and August quickly establish a theme of benefit of the doubt,  and there was something that August said that spoke a hint of truth: “It raises the issue of benefit of the doubt… whether giving benefit of the doubt could make some of these things that seem outrageous a little bit more understandable” (Mazin and August 2017). A question that raised for them was: “Does an atheist/agnostic capitalize the “g” in the word God?” The answers they give are sound and reasonable. Mazin, an atheist, usually capitalizes the “g” only when speaking of God as a religious concept. So when someone asks “Do you believe in God?” Mazin would capitalize the “g”, whereas August noted that he would capitalize the “g” in some places and leave it lowercase in others, admitting an inconsistency. Ultimately, the two came to the conclusion, that it really doesn’t matter.

The second and third questions relate to accuracy. Specifically, chess and baseball, but to summarize what the two concluded to: if you are an expert, then simply go ahead and write what you know, the old connotation; however, understand that most people who are reading your script, are not experts in whatever you are writing about. They also spoke of accuracy, stating that while filmmakers attempt to do the best they can, people must always remember that things happen on set. An example that they mention is an episode of “The Office” where there are two bishops, both of which are on white squares, an impossible situation- Mazin and August note that while the director may have known this, in order to keep continuity, the pieces were left in place. Of course filmmakers attempt to be accurate in most things, but sometimes accuracy has to be sacrificed for numerous reasons, such as continuity or budget (Mazin and August 2017).

“The Ghost in the Shell”, which opened recently, has received backlash for whitewashing and to not being accurate to the original source material. However, it might be best for those people claiming such things to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone is going to be represented accurately, it is impossible. Social justice does not have a place in film, that is what Twitter is for.


Work Cited

Mazin, Chris, and John August. “294 – Getting the Details Wrong.” Audio blog post. Scriptnotes. N.p., 4 Apr. 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.

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