Monday, April 13, 2009


Since pretty much everyone I know went home this weekend, I holed up in my room for a massive jelly bean/The Wire binge. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did I was really hooked (I'm a sucker for crime shows to start with). Anyways I watched the whole first season and took some notes, and something that really stood out to me was the reflection of issues/themes in both the drug gang and the police force. Some examples:

  • "chain of command"- This is mentioned very straight forwardly in the police force. The deputy, Major Rawls, Lt. Daniels, Detectives (the most interesting "caste" if you will, because although they are all "equal" it is obvious who holds more authority) rounded out by the lowly "troopers". In the gang, in works the same way, and while not so straightforward, its still pretty obvious- Avon, Stringer, then guys like D'Angelo and WeeBay, all the way down to Wallace and the other "soldiers".  However, in the police force, everyone is doing things without permission, not telling the Lieutenant this or that, ect. In fact, this omission of facts is encouraged by the other detectives; near the end of the season Lt. Daniels and McNulty agree to go to the federal government behind the back of the deputy. On the other hand, in the gang, the second D'Angelo mentions teaming up with Orlando to sell some extra dope on the side, the other guys insist "you better run that by your uncle first."  All I can think of is when the little kid says "if the count is wrong, they fuck you up." Loyalty isn't really an option if you don't have the law on your side.
  • "snitchin'"- The higher ups of the gang suspect Wallace is snitchin', he gets shot by his two best friends. The Lt. finds out Carver is feeding the deputy information about the case, he gets a slap on the hand.
  • elaborate action plans- The police have complicated set-ups, roof top spies, wire taps ect. The gang it turns out, has an equally complicated system of pager codes and pay phones and a complete set up to cheat Orlando out of 30 grand. Not to mention they both have protocol, the police need probable cause, Miranda Rights; the gang "you see a bitch in the car you change it up". Its also interesting how what sends each side into a frenzy the most is when they know they've done wrong on one of the other's own. When the police are (rightfully) accused of using unwarranted force on the three young black guys at the Towers, the department goes crazy because they know they know the black community won't stand for it. Same for the public when Keema is shot.
  • sending a message- The police raid the stash house because the deputy wants to see "dope on the table" to send a message to the public following Keema being shot. The gang brutally kills Brandon and leaves him on a car to send a message to the rest of the city that they won't be robbed and made fools of.
  • taking care of their own- When D'Angelo fucks up (is witnessed shooting a guy in the Towers) Uncle Avon steps up, gives him the family lawyer, gets him off, demotes him to the low rises. When Prezbyluzki fucks up (blinds a 14 year old boy) Lt. Daniels gives him a story and puts him on office duty. Oh, sweet sweet corruption!
At this point, its hard for me to judge which side is more morally fucked. On the cop side, most of the people are concerned with personal gain rather than serving justice. Almost all of the higher-ups have ulterior motives. In the gang, well they shoot a lot of people, but they do have a sense of loyalty to each other. I guess its because all the strays get shot. When Poot and the other guy shot Wallace, that really did it for me. If it had been some other gang members that shot him, I probably wouldn't have been so disturbed, but I guess it was just the fact that his two best friends shot him so (relatively) easily, all in "the name of the game". Another thing that makes this difficult is all the use of brute force by Baltimore's finest. It's hard to remember that the gangsters aren't exactly innocent. Reminds me of Lolita; it's difficult to decide who to root for. The innocent 12-year old, the police, right? But in the same way that its hard to discount Humbert's love, its hard to ignore the fact that the gang is all just trying to make it, they're getting by the only way they've ever known- it's their family history. And then you remember its drugs and murder and totally illegal.  

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