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Sunday, September 07, 2008

I am wholly pessimistic about American society. I believe The Wire is a show about the end of the American Empire. We are all, or our kids, are going to live that event. How we end up at the end of it and where we end up and whether or not we can survive and on what terms is going to be the only question from now on.
MetaFilter has great links on David Simon and the pessimistic politics of the The Wire.

First, this from the Guardian: "The escalating breakdown of urban society across the US."
I live in Baltimore, in a neighbourhood that is none of these things. I am vested in the city and its future and I can drive you to places in this city that would transform even the most devout Wire fan into a fat, happy tourist. Baltimore's charms are no less plentiful than most American cities.

And yet there are places in Baltimore where The Wire is not at all hyperbole, where all of the depicted tragedy and waste and dysfunction are fixed, certain and constant. And that place is, I might add, about 20 blocks from where I live.

That is the context of The Wire and that is the only context in which Baltimore - and by reasonable extension, urban America - can be fairly regarded. There are two Americas - separate, unequal, and no longer even acknowledging each other except on the barest cultural terms. In the one nation, new millionaires are minted every day. In the other, human beings no longer necessary to our economy, to our society, are being devalued and destroyed. Both things are true, and one gets a sense, reading the distant reaction to The Wire, that Europeans are far more ready to be convinced by one vision than the other.
And second, clips of a recent lecture from Loyola College: