Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Okay I know I'm a little late to the party on this one. I tried to watch The Wire during the third season but having missed the first two I couldn't get into it.
Now it just started airing on here on cable. The Italian Tag is, "America In Five Acts". The critically acclaimed show ran for five years on HBO. Each year they focused on a different facet of Baltimore. First up the drug trade, later the ports, city government & the bureaucracy, the school system/education and the media.
Now I get the hype. This show is excellent. Well written, excellent complex characters and at times it's very funny. What is happening in parts of Baltimore is a cancer in American society. You don't have to live in the inner city for the problems there to impact you. The cancer is growing and we are losing an entire generation of young men.
One of my former bosses used to teach in the Baltimore school system. The stories she told us broke our hearts. This is unacceptable for a rich country that loves to tell other countries what to do, and where the Hannitys of the world say "It's the greatest country in the world". Really? For who?
David Simon the creator of the show is a former police reporter. He also worked on the HBO mini-series THE CORNER, which was depressing as hell. He was a writer on NBC's HOMICIDE which was based on his non-fiction book. He had quite a few creative issues with them. They thought the show was too pessimistic at times.
I was trying to figure why this show hits me in the gut. I think it's seeing young kids trapped in this world. If your schools are horrible, nobody in your neighborhood seems to have a job and the area looks like Beirut how do you succeed? Is anyone surprised at the level of crime and dysfunction? How did this happen?
I thought the following was interesting...from wikipedia:
Simon described the second season as a meditation on the death of work and the betrayal of the American working class.…"[I]t is a deliberate argument that unencumbered capitalism is not a substitute for social policy; that on its own, without a social compact, raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many."
He added that season 3 "reflects on the nature of reform and reformers, and whether there is any possibility that political processes, long calcified, can mitigate against the forces currently arrayed against individuals." The third season is also an allegory that draws explicit parallels between the War in Iraq and the national drug prohibition, which in Simon's view has failed in its aims and become a war against America's underclass.
This is portrayed by Major Colvin, imparting to Carver his view that policing has been allowed to become a war and thus will never succeed in its aims.
Writer Ed Burns, who worked as a public school teacher after retiring from the Baltimore police force shortly before going to work with Simon, has called education the theme of the fourth season. Rather than focusing solely on the school system, the fourth season looks at schools as a porous part of the community that are affected by problems outside of their boundaries.
Burns states that education comes from many sources other than schools and that children can be educated by other means, including contact with the drug dealers they work for. Burns and Simon see the theme as an opportunity to explore how individuals end up like the show's criminal characters, and to dramatize the theory that hard work is not always justly rewarded.
I know since the "war" began our jails have been filling up but I agree that things have not improved. I don't know how we win this war. As long as there is demand, somebody is going to supply it.
On a completely shallow note, Idris Elba and Dominic West are fione. Both play Americans but are from the UK.
Any WIRE fans out there? Love to hear your thoughts (or on the drug war in general)...please watch spoilers. I'm only in the middle of the first season.