Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"You got to, man, this is America."

The colloquial language of The Wire is not only awesome in a literary-Huck-Finn way, but it is so dang catchy. My roommate watched the whole season with me, and our everyday language is now full of Wire-isms. “Get in the back seat, fuck nuts.” “You come at the king, you best not miss.” The most popular being “You got to, man, this is America,” from the first episode. This one sentence sums up a whole feeling of the season. Yes, the institutions suck, but that is the way it is…“You got to, man, this is America.” Baltimore was the perfect city, because, as Kevin said, it is the “Everycity.” It is America. Both players have to disregard others’ humanity, McNulty undermining the DA or Wallace’s friends shooting him (not totally on the same level but examples none the less). This is another “You got to man.” Terrorism taking precedence to fighting The War on Drugulars = “This is America.”

Another popular Wire-ism we utilize comes when Wallace schools Sarah (yeah, that’s a girl, I think). Miku and some others have brought up this line. “Count be wrong, they fuck you up.” My roommate and I use it in almost the same way as “this is America;” something is obligatory. D expounds on this idea when he explains that he was freer in the holding cell than working for Avon. Actions on the street are heavy. Actions in the police department are heavy. Most of the dialogue distracts from this heaviness. For example: discussions on who created the chicken finger and Ronald McDonald’s treatment of him. However, the characters are unable to escape the heaviness of their actions; even these little conversations are full of meaning and weight.

Grace asked if watching something excuses from the use of our imagination. I think if this thing that is watched is good, then we are not excused from our imagination. I do not turn off the Wire and go back to happy life. The Wire forces you to consider the institutions of our lives and our participation in these institutions.

We are forced to confront how we regard people. This was a major question The Wire pulled up for me. In the same episode, McNulty is torn up about Gregg’s shooting and ambivalent about Wallace’s. Maybe ambivalent is wrong, but it is apparent that Wallace’s death is more like “part of the game” than Gregg’s shooting.

This is where the Wire ties to Lolita for me. At the beginning of Lolita, Dolores is Lolilita the Nymph. She is not human. The characters in the Wire regard members from the opposite institutions as pawns, not human beings. We see that D sees Wallace as a human. Greggs is a pawn to him, although he recognizes that she died. The feelings are reversed for McNulty.

Although I was not in class Tuesday to advocate The Wire as literature, be damned sure that I think it is of great merit.

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