This week, Iâ€™m mourning televisionâ€™s loss of The Wire. I mourn the loss of its brilliant acting, its thoughtful exposition, its incredible act of balancing so many characters, its development of the possibilities for serial television, and its meticulous urban sociology. I also mourn the loss of some of televisionâ€™s best characters (choosing favorites is easy with every other show I watch â€“ Ben Linus in Lost, Homer in The Simpsons, Cartman in South Park â€“ but impossible with The Wire â€“ Snoop, Omar, Bubbles, Dukie, Stringer, Carver, Bunk, Freeman, Greggs, â€¦).
But salting the wounds of Wire fansâ€™ misery in our loss has been the last weekâ€™s attacks on Obama through the attacks on his pastor. What these have shown to me so clearly is how desperately in need this country is of shows like The Wire that understand and analyze the state of institutional racism. And it saddens me that I have to say â€œlike The Wire,â€ yet canâ€™t quickly add any others to a would-be list. I knew life post-Wire was going to sting a little, but did Fate have to follow The Wireâ€™s finale first with Geraldine Ferraroâ€™s stunningly, laughably ignorant comments on Obama having an advantage in his primary campaign against Clinton because heâ€™s black, and then hit us with the attacks on Obamaâ€™s pastorâ€™s sermons as yet more supposed evidence that, what, Obama is some white-hating, America-hating, undercover Somali Muslim super-agent hell-bent on bringing down the nation from the inside (?!!). This is a Chappelleâ€™s Show skit, surely, not reality??
Putting aside oneâ€™s political convictions and preferences (since surely one could be shocked by the above and still think that McCain, Clinton, Huckabee, or even Gravel or Romney rule), if there are still people who wonâ€™t just dismiss Ferraroâ€™s comments and the attack on Obama via Wright as anything other than laughably stupid, if some honestly believe that being black gives one an advantage in national politics let alone in the nation at large (which, of course, must explain the huge number of black senators and governors?), and if some canâ€™t understand why Wright or many others might be filled with anger, disappointment, and scorn for a nation that has screwed him and his community over so thoroughly, and often without remorse or even honest acceptance, for so long, sweet baby Jesus do we need more shows like The Wire. To pretend that ending slavery, instituting affirmative action, and waiting a few years would deal with racism in its many forms, making it all go away, is an act of shocking naivety and foolishness.
Obamaâ€™s speech today may have addressed some of these tragic errors in logic and judgment, but Iâ€™m steeling myself for the sound-bite and scrolling ticker versions to lose all context (Faux News, for instance, is already getting good play out of his comments about his grandma, trying not so subtly to paint him as a disloyal grandson, as well as a white-hating, America-hating, undercover Somali Muslim super-agent hell-bent on bringing down the nation from the inside [?!!]). What The Wire offered, by contrast, was stories, characters, and lives that showed us on a weekly basis how the blight of Americaâ€™s past overt and legislated racism continues institutionally to this day, alive and operating on many dimensions. Iâ€™m sure some would characterize the show, and my comments here for that matter, as â€œanti-American,â€ but itâ€™s to them that The Wires of the future need to reach out.
I didnâ€™t intend this to be a political blog, and I wonâ€™t usually dip into this mode. It just seems such a cruel instance of irony that The Wireâ€™s finale was followed by such a depressing week in politics that so sorely dishonored the showâ€™s memory.
, The Wire