Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vulgarity and Authenticity

Something I've noticed as I've been watching the Wire is that the things that would normally make me cringe about a show--racial slurs, vulgarity, misogyny--haven't bothered me nearly as much. For a while, I couldn't figure out why that was. It wasn't because I went in with an open mind because that has been ineffective in other situations. But nonetheless, I've been taking this show in unperturbed in a way I haven't managed in years. 

Earlier today it hit me: this show is ridiculously good at being authentic. Usually, when I watch a show/movie and shudder at unsavory things, it's because the show isn't authentic, and thus, I feel like what's going on is part of a message about how reality "should" be--what is unrealistic literature if not either a utopia or a dystopia? And so, of course, things I disagree with irritate me. But the Wire is very real. If it's sending a message, it's not by an example of ideal or an example of scary extreme negative. Because of all of this, I can accept the slurs and the misogyny. None of it is condoned; nothing and no one are condoned. 

The authenticity here is in the details, at least partially. One bit I remember in particular is when someone opens their car door and the car starts making a faint beeping noise. I've never seen that in a film or show! I don't know whether it's bits like that or overall accuracy of people that makes the show so believable, but whatever it is, it's literally changed how I watch it. 

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