I am a huge fan of “The Wire” and its writers. Long before David Simon had written any television I read his book “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.” I’ve read everything Dennis Lehane has ever published. I’ve read at least four novels by George Pelecanos. I’ve read two of Richard Price’s novels and followed his screenwriting work for years.
I knew about these writers long before “The Wire,” and if the show had never been made I’d still be an avid follower of their work.
But frankly, I was disappointed and confused by this manifesto they recently put out.
First and foremost, “The Wire” is such a strong show, and the writing is so excellent that I don’t understand why they can’t just let their work do the talking.
In my mind, they’re now grouped with actors like Sean Penn, Barbara Streisand, and others who use their notoriety to make political statements, and try to influence politics with no awareness of their own lack of expertise. What’s more, these writers are aware of their inadequacy and state it from the beginning.
“We write a television show. Measured against more thoughtful and meaningful occupations, this is not the best seat from which to argue public policy or social justice.” I couldn’t agree more.
Still though, it seems they couldn’t resist.
The writers admit what they suggest will not work. And I agree. There has to be a better way to address this problem than acquitting guilty drug offenders, non-violent though they might be. As disturbed as I am by incarceration levels in this country I think that acquitting people will only encourage repeat behavior. I find ignoring evidence as a jury member to be morally repugnant and flat-out wrong.
Plus, I disagree with the assumption inherent in the writers’ manifesto that non-violent drug offenses are easily distinguishable and divorceable from violent offenses. If there is one thing I have learned from watching “The Wire” it is that the drug trade is inherently violent, and the creation of drug addicts, and the markets they power will inevitably lead to violent crimes, because the motivation of the work force, and the protection of the markets is carried out through violent means.
Am I crazy? Or are these men that I respect and regard as geniuses the crazy ones?