Come Jan. 6

Join me, Scout and the rest of the crew over atthe New Package for discussion ofThe Wire.

It’s already makingthe Baltimore Sun, having been gutted and skullfucked by Chicago’s very own Tribune company, defensive and pissy:

More problematic still is the way Simon links certain newsroom characters to real-life journalists through words and actions – and then depicts them exclusively in a negative fashion. Simon moves deeper into docudrama when he does that, and The Wire suffers as a result.

The docudrama genre, which has come under increasing fire in recent years, combines the look of documentary film with the literary license of theater – giving viewers the sense that what they are watching is true even though facts have been rearranged and actions invented.

Beyond blurring fact and fiction and ignoring any sense of proportionality, the genre also telescopes and confuses time. Simon left the Sun in 1995, and his newsroom villains are patterned on editors and a reporter long gone from Baltimore. But Simon presents his story as if it is taking place at The Sun today.

Ultimately, the most disappointing aspect of Season 5 is that Simon offers such a simplistic critique of media and their effects on mass consciousness. To say that even the most respected newspapers sometimes have ethical lapses will hardly be news to any HBO viewers who have ever heard of Jayson Blair and The New York Times.

Newspapers have changed exponentially since Simon left 12 years ago. When he was in the newsroom, cable TV was still considered new media – and most newspapers were at least five years away from the realization that they would soon live or die by the Internet. The first seven episodes of The Wire have almost nothing to say about the biggest story in newspapers: the vast technological change sweeping through media today. And that is most surprising given how up-to-the-second – even prescient – the series has been about the use of the latest technology by criminals.

Given that the writer above also calls “technological change” the biggest story in journalism today automatically makes me distrust the rest of his analysis. The point of the Wire’s never been criminals’ use of technology. It’s about systems and the ways in which we tolerate and solve and do not solve problems in society. Bitching about the Internet isn’t solving a problem, it’s making an excuse for the craven and greedy people in power, the kind of thing Simon excels in skewering.


6 thoughts on “Come Jan. 6

  1. If the wire was about JUST Baltimore, he’d have a point.
    It seems to me that inner Baltimore is indistinguishable from the run down parts of several dozen American cities. I’ve been to those neighborhoods, they all suck that hard. The reasons why are each different but are entirely analagous, having the same root.

  2. At the end of season 4 the DVD had a whole bit about the making of the Wire that was WONDERFUL. In it you see just how committed they are to telling the truth of the characters. That is the key to it’s feeling of reality.
    They have made great points about each one of the institutions they have been writing about. The drug king pins, the schools, the police and the dock workers have all said that they have been accurately depicted. So suddenly the most personal of the institutions is wrong?
    I have a feeling that the Sun’s comments’ are the “official” comments where they can’t say, “Yep, ya got us. You nailed us. We are just that messed up. Good one! You told it like it is!” But I’ll bet that the people who are still there might be secretly going. “YEAH! You have exposed the bullsh*t!”
    Now will this make any changes? Probably not, but it might make people understand what is happening at our MSM media and why they want to focus on missing white women instead of dealing with issues that matter.

  3. Is this a scheduled chat about The Wire? If so, what time is it? I’m excited to see someone talking about this show. I live in CO, and I’m constantly whoring it to people I know to get them to watch it.

  4. taking the liberty of answering NewsClews: it’s not a scheduled chat, just blogging about each new episode (and other general Wire stuff).

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