The Wire

I love the show. I really do. I am sad that it will go. I would love to see the 6th season, which will not happen (as of this time) but if it were to be made would focus on the influx of Latino immigrants to Baltimore.

That being said, some things that were said in the commentary tracks of the 4th season have not been picked up by the commentariat dissecting the show: the makers of the show (I believe it is Simon although it could be a particular episode’s director) say that they love to film in neighborhoods that are no longer there. That they through their work are preserving something of the history of the place.

History should be preserved. This is a situation akin to spider eaters, history to be remembered so that it is not repeated. However, there is a wistfulness in their description of these neighborhoods being physically demolished that is both fitting and incongruous with the message of The Wire. Simon does not believe in progress. He’s the “angriest man in television.” Yet, The Wire shows neighborhoods that have already demolished those unfortunate enough to reside in them. If the buildings themselves disappear, then is that the end of the world?

It seems as there there are two points to try to address this situation that are in part related to my research (ah, yes, it does always return to that, doesn’t it?). (1) If there are no accommodations being made for those who are pushed out of the ghetto, then how are the developers and politicians of Baltimore different from the bulldozers of Mugabe? That is, they are not eliminating the problems facing the inhabitants of the ghetto only further marginalizing them such that they cannot even be found and are even more distant from the reality of the rest of the population. (2) On the other hand, what if there are negative neighborhood effects associated with the ghetto?* What if dispersing the trouble actually reduces some of its stickiness?

My fear is that Simon is so focused on the negatives that he can’t see progress, even if it is happening. [Not that I know what’s up in Baltimore these days, but listening to the commentary tracks just pushed me to mention this possibility….]

* To be fair to Sharkey, the author of the Boston Review piece on sociological studies of the under-invested neighborhoods of the ghetto discusses the possibility of such effects rather than claiming them.

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