Thursday, February 28, 2008

Real Thugs 8

In looking at the comments, Sudhir Venkatesh has created a powerful institution in and of itself. Even those who have yet to see a single episode of The Wire can't help but wait for the next freakomics blog entry by the "thugs." Episode eight took it to a new level and his posts are more about the thugs than The Wire. Although I can't say I'm disappointed. Well, a part of me still wants their take on the show, but their own stories are so much better.

In the beginning the posts brought a different view of The Wire. The hustler's view of who was going to play who next (and they were often spot-on). But with the last few posts, Venkatesh subtly shows that The Wire is not merely a TV show. The Game is not a game. It's LIFE for many. In The Wire, success is making it to the top. Winning that Pulitzer, the Governor's office, supplying all of Baltimore with drugs, becoming chief of police. On the streets, success is: "if you woke up and you weren’t in jail and you were breathing." This is according to J.T., Venkatesh's friend in Chicago and a gangleader on whom he based his book Gangleader for a Day.

Venkatesh also addresses how difficult it is to cause any real change in this environment. Sudhir often felt "helpless, uneasy, and looking to do the right thing." Yet one of the other thugs responds to Venkatesh's thoughts: “You want to know what’s hard, Sudhir? Understanding that you just can’t fix [anything] — not always, and not right away. Live with that feeling you got, my brother, ’cause we’re living with it every day. I hope you suffer; it’s good for you.” It's powerful stuff that truly connects the imagery, and the literary symbols, and the plots twists to what The Wire is really about. Life in Baltimore. Life in the American City.

But this is not to merely lay pity at the feet of a drug dealer who isn't making it. The point is that (to bring it back to The Wire), like a Greek tragedy, Dukie could not choose his fate, and neither can some of these dealers who must hustle on the street to survive.

1 comment:

Adam said...

you've got to put up predictions for the final episode