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David Simon and the gen behind The Wire

October 14, 2009

From a fine article in The Times, The Wire creator David Simon, reveals the intention behind the series in advance of his new book with show writer and former Baltimore Sun alumnus Rafael Alvarez.

‘Character is an essential for all good drama, and plotting is just as fundamental. But ultimately, the storytelling that speaks to our current condition, that grapples with the basic realities and contradictions of our immediate world – these are stories that, in the end, have a small chance of presenting a social, and even political, argument. And to be honest, The Wire was not merely trying to tell a good story or two. We were very much trying to pick a fight.

[..]The Wire was not about Jimmy McNulty. Or Avon Barksdale. Or Marlo Stanfield, or Tommy Carcetti or Gus Haynes. It was not about crime. Or punishment. Or the drug war. Or politics. Or race. Or education, labor relations or journalism.
It was about The City.
It is how we in the West live at the millennium, an urbanized species compacted together, sharing a common love, awe, and fear of what we have rendered not only in Baltimore or St. Louis or Chicago, but in Manchester or Amsterdam or Mexico City or Cairo as well.
At best, our metropolises are the ultimate aspiration of community, the repository for every myth and hope of people clinging to the sides of the ever-more-fragile pyramid that is capitalism. At worst, our cities – or those places in our cities where most of us fear to tread – are vessels for the darkest contradicts and most brutal competitions that underlie the way we actually live together, or fail to live together.

Man, but that last para is poetry.

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