Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Slate's Wire Club gets worse and worse (WARNING: If you're not caught up, there's a spoiler below. I don't know if I can protect you forever, but I'm trying for now). I don't know how Jeff Greenberg does it. He seems to understand the show even less when he actually likes an episode. And David Plotz, whose Blogging the Bible series was one of last year's sleeper delights, seems only marginally more aware of what's going on in this series. It's like reading 6th graders on Moby-Dick. They've put names to the major characters, but seem baffled anything on-screen requiring a subtle read.

Consider Jeff Greenberg's question about what's presumably Omar's final scene in the show:

One more question, suggested to us by our maximum leader: What was the point of seeing Omar laid out in the morgue, victimized one final time, in this instance by a city bureaucrat? If it was to prove the point that the city doesn't work, well, I think the point has been made. Or was it just to allow the audience to mourn? Or get a fleeting glimpse of Omar's groin?

Wow. I get where a casual observation of the show might confuse a viewer about what happened in the morgue, which was this: The medical examiner opened Omar's bodybag just around the head. Then the medical examiner opened the next one, revealing the head of an older white man. The medical examiner looked at the ID card for the white guy and read that it was for Omar, a black man (DOB listed as 1960, so obviously the system has bad info on Omar, who was born in the early to mid 70s). Smiling a little at the mistake, the medical examiner switches the cards, which will ensure that Omar is buried under his own name. There's a naked, overweight, Black body in the background throughout this scene. Any fleeting glimpses at groins would be at this unnamed and unknown prop. So, a casual viewer might misunderstand what happened there. But seriously? If you're a columnist writing about a show for a major national magazine, watch the fucking thing twice. And do it carefully, not while you're thinking about how you're going to justify your support for Bush's invasion of Iran or something. Fucking lazy-ass jackhole. (As you may read in comments, Anonymous calls me out on resorting to lazy profanity when my point is better made without it. But I'm nothing without my warts and all, so I'm both striking it and leaving it readable. Anyway, sorry for calling names. "Lazy" was probably strong enough.)

Here's another stellar insight:

You haven't convinced me on Carcetti—I believe the man still wants to do good, which is why he's so interesting as a character, in a way that his predecessor in office wasn't. But you've half-convinced me on Marlo. I see your point—Marlo needs to be left standing in order to make a very important point about the futility of the drug war, among other things. And if The Wire doesn't give Bunk a victory, then I'm canceling HBO. Unless The Wire has become just irretrievably dark, I can't imagine a situation in which Chris escapes Bunk's DNA evidence, and since there's no escape, there's little chance Chris will overthrow Marlo before Bunk closes in. Of course, Chris could knock off Marlo and then Bunk could knock off Chris, but then it's a happy ending, and I don't imagine we'll be having one of those. Of course, if McNulty is allowed to die in a pool of his own vomit, or if Lester accidentally overdoses on dollhouse glue, or Bubbles becomes a heartless schmuck, then I suppose the show could safely kill off Marlo without anyone accusing David Simon of staging a cheap morality play.

I don't get how Greenberg could be so simple-minded. Doesn't it seem exactly the point of Carcetti that his belief in what he says is complete and total and lasts only as long as he is saying these things? Greenberg's a reporter covering politics in Washington DC, right? Is the inability to understand this basic fact about successful politicians a prerequisite for that job? And let's go on. Greenberg says that Marlo needs to be left standing to prove a point about the drug war and then goes on to speculate about a power struggle between Partlow and Marlo and how to get to a happy ending, basically involving the deaths of major characters where Greenberg's little internal morality-ometer has flipped in recent episodes. Then he suggests that if these things happen, David Simon is NOT staging a "cheap morality play." I get that he's being sarcastic about how he feels about the show, but that final judgment isn't sarcastic, but practically a demand that Simon's Baltimore be a cheap morality play where the good guys are punished when they stray from the straight and narrow.

Which, in my opinion, misses the entire point of the fucking show, let alone any artform of the last, say, 200 years that requires the audience to consider ambiguity. When I started off reading the Wire Club, I thought it unforgiveable that these gasbags who clearly don't think much of the show get paid to bullshit in public about their limited understanding. Now I sorta think Greenberg in particular has shown that he doesn't have the critical thinking necessary to perform his primary job as a political reporter and commenter. Maybe he would be better as a TV reporter, covering fictions without a hint of ambiguity. He could be one of those inexplicable writers who write glowing tributes to "Two and A Half Men" and reflect fondly on "Everybody Loves Raymond."


Anonymous 12:22 PM, February 26, 2008  

"Fucking lazy-ass jackhole."
Now, now...we all know that you can burn someone so much more deeply by not calling names but rather by explaining why their behavior vexes you so much, which you did quite well.

Hayden Childs 12:44 PM, February 26, 2008  

True. I let my frustrated rage get the better of me.

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