Friday, December 19, 2008

Life Imitates Art Folder

We've had quite a bit of life imitating art imitating life recently. First, Aaron Sorkin models his West Wing character "Josh Lymon" off of Rahm Emanuel, a political fire eater in the Clinton White House. Then the West Wing's Matt Santos (modeled off Barack Obama) "wins" the next election over "western state centrist Republican (aka John McCain)" Arnie Vinnick. Santos appoints Lymon as his Chief of Staff. Who does Obama appoint a couple years after The West Wing has been canceled? Rahm Emanuel, of course.

The Wire has spawned numerous life imitates art situations, most of which appear on the Baltimore Crime Blog. But Illinois Governor "Hot Rod" Blagojevich blatently stole from Simon's character Clay Davis today in a press conference in which he dramatically announced:
"I'm here to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, that I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way. I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath."
Like the fictional Maryland Congressman, Blagojevich blamed "a political lynch mob" with all the insinuations that come with mentioning such a mob: hysteria, discrimination, and swift (in)justice without due process. Perhaps we would be more convinced if the "mob" wasn't made up of a well-respected Federal AG and the evidence wasn't a four year+ investigation, wiretap quotes, and corroborating testimony from Blago goons.

And remember Clay Davis reaching back to the past to appropriate some history and literature for his own uses. Carrying Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound into the courtroom, he explains the work by A-see-lee-us:
"It's an ancient play, of the oldest we have. It's about a simple man who was horrifically punished by the powers that be for the terrible crime of trying to bring light to the people."
Blago has his own version:

"Rudyard Kipling wrote, If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting, too; if you can wait and not be tired by waiting; or being lied about, don't deal in lies; or being hated, don't give way to hating.

Now, I know there are some powerful forces arrayed against me. It's kind of lonely right now.

But I have on my side the most powerful ally there is, and it's the truth."

Give that man an Oscar. And fifteen years in the federal pokey.

Via New Package:

Melissa Harris-Lacewell recommends viewing The Wire to learn more about the current crisis. Cop the last minute on the video.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Politics of the Wire

Ta-Nehisi Coates, who rocks, has a post on whether The Wire can be viewed as a "conservative" show. He thinks that by the end it's just nihilistic, but I don't things are so bad. Repetitive yes, but nihilistic? Those are some strong words. In the words of Walter Souchek: "Nihilists! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."

His post had quite a bit of discussion. Nice to see that The Wire can still generate some passion. Here's my comment:

Wow, it's great to see this much discussion on The Wire long after the end of the show (and Generation Kill). When is Simon's next project up?

I really don't think The Wire can be a blank slate on which anyone can project their own political slant. And I definitely don't think you can argue that TW is conservative at heart.

In my opinion Season 4 is the biggest argument against a conservative idea that in America, anyone who really sets their mind to it and works hard can rise to great heights. The four boys showed they had many skills to offer society, and the desire to do so, yet only one- Namond has a chance to attend college and leave West Baltimore.

Similarly, libertarians rejoiced when Bunny Colvin legalized drugs in Hamsterdam. Yet, this wasn't the freedom from government that makes up the libertarian utopia. It was merely new regulations about where people could or could not sell drugs. Nothing was utopian about Hamsterdam.

Simon attacked unions in season 2. The Democrats' longest running interest group could not stem the tide of capitalism and deindustrialization.

And don't even get Simon started on centrist politicians. Other commenters have mentioned the false hope embodied in Carcetti's New Day or the thinly disguised corrupt political machine operated by Clay Davis. Simon couldn't even muster up much vocal support for Obama in various interviews. His view on politics was that "I think it is actually a little bit overly moneyed and broken."

Nor can we say the show is leftist, though I believe that if Simon lands anywhere on the spectrum this is the place.

Ultimately, I think the show doesn't accommodate all these political views because reality accommodates all political views. Rather, the show accommodates none of these views because reality can't be seen through Republican or Democrat glasses. It's messy but beautiful, and that's The Wire's brilliance.