Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Wire - Article

My 200th post, and the first of my articles for Lancaster Uni's newspaper, SCAN.

Living in a Cave - The Wire

Over the next few issues, I’m going to introduce you to some examples of culture that I probably should have stumbled across sooner; things everyone else seemed to know about except me. I’ll be looking at things like The Sopranos, The Godfather, The Wire, Dr Dre, and, if we’ve got time, girls.

First off, I don’t really live in a cave, that’s just a metaphor, which I’m hoping you got. I actually live in a nice room in Old Grizedale, with lovely views of the sea, and where you only really notice the drilling if you’re lazy enough to want to sleep in after 8am. With all that daytime on my hands, you’d think I’d have been able to catch up on The Wire a little sooner than I did, but hey, I’m an incredibly busy philosophy student. I’ve been hearing about The Wire for a while, but I stubbornly kept myself to the old classics, like Diagnosis Murder and Time Team. On arriving into Third Year however, I discovered that I had so much free time, that I could finally dip into the series, films and music I'd spent so long forgetting to watch.

After watching the first few episodes of The Wire, I came to the conclusion that there’s no shame in turning on the subtitles. Even with the subtitles, I struggled sometimes to understand quite what was going on, but the plot is so engrossing that it carries you along, even if you’re not entirely sure what's actually going on. Most of the language is deliciously fruity, and the swearing is always horrifyingly inventive, and strong enough to offend even the most liberal of mothers; like mine who had a bit of a shock when she sat down to watch what she thought was her Miss Marple DVD.

The Wire shows both sides of Baltimore’s war on drugs, and on paper, isn’t far away from any other police drama out there. You see the life of drug barons, of the kids that work for them; but then you see things from the side of the police squad created to take them down. Each season focusses on a different institution of the city; the police department, the dockyards, a city newspaper, a public school, and City Hall, where the Baltimore politicians squelch around their offices, almost dripping with sleaze. What I found that The Wire does so well, is show how the rich professionals in the city are just as, and sometimes more, ruthless than the drug-slinging kids that stand out on the corner; the only difference is that one side claims to have a higher moral standing.

Since The Wire ended after its fifth season, now is the perfect opportunity to do what I did; buy all of the boxsets, lock your bedroom door, close the curtains, put the subtitles on, and sink into the corrupt world of the Baltimore drug economy. Give it a chance, and you'll find yourself love with villains, like Omar Little, and Stringer Bell, and when it's over, you may feel a significant sense of loss. It took me about three weeks to watch the whole lot, and when I finally emerged, pale and malnourished, I still managed to gangster lean down the flat corridor and call my flatmates c*** s****** mother******s.

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