Words By Patrick M.
R.I.P. Bodie Broadus
The Wire, like hip-hop, is the news program of the streets. Just like hip-hop music, it shares a focus on how the drug trade and the relationship between the police and the criminal organizations mold innercity society. For its realistic depiction and blurring of moral guidelines between the good guys and the bad guys, the series earns deserved plaudits from hip-hop heads & critics alike. As the last season starts on Sunday, everyone’s wondering whether Marlo’s going down, if McNulty’s drinking again and if Omar can stay alive long enough to run to the Caribbean and a harem of Latino males. However, the show goes deeper than just those surface themes & the main characters involved in them.
Beyond the drug kingpins and major crime units, the series peers into the life of several Baltimore citizens and shows how deep the drug game runs in Baltimore and how it affects its citizens on an individual level. The Wire’s greatest strength is creating an ensemble of supporting players, and making you care about each of them and their struggles. Here are some I’ll be following closely in the final season.
Skeptical as I was when The Wire turned its attention to the political sphere (I was worried it’d go West Wing on us,) credit must be given again to David Simon and company. While the hip-hop media focuses on the street aspects of the show, the painting of the politics of the city are no less nuanced or realistic. Moreover, the total integration, from Carcetti’s office to Poot’s corner and how they all connect through the show are what sets The Wire apart. For Carcetti, the question will be can he keep the newfound optimism and progressiveness that marked his campaign, or will he fall victim to the frustrations of limited power and the temptations of higher offices? I believe he is a fundamentally good man, but I also believe that the problems of politics can crush many a good man’s soul, especially in a city with as many problems as Baltimore.
He began the show as comic relief. His buddy-buddy relationship with Herc existed only as pacing to the show away from it’s more serious moments. Moreover, he was an asshole cop, obsessed with administering legalized beatdowns and showmanship. Like so many characters in the show, he was allowed to grow, to break the mold already set for him. Operating in Hamsterdam under Bunny Colvin allowed him to open his eyes to the intricacies and unfairness of the drug laws and their relationship to inner-city crime. By season four, he had matured into the most streetwise cop on the beat, understanding that there were other methods of controlling violence than through violent means. Yet like Carcetti, he’s come to realize that the actions of one person against a corrupt system are limited in their effect. He tried to save Randy, even offering to adopt him has his own son, yet was ultimately left helpless & stoned by bureaucracy. How will he react to this failure? Will he continue to be the good cop, or revert to his past ways?
Introduced in Season Four, the saga of Randy, Dookie, Michael, and Naymond shifted the focus on to how black children become affected by and involved in the drug game. Two themes were paramount – the lack of strong parenting and family structure on behalf of all four and the inability of the public school system to fill the void.
Of the four youngsters, Randy’s story hit me the hardest. Did he snitch? Sure, he told the police he knew where to find a dead body, not who killed anyone. But his situation puts in to question the entire snitching ethos. Which society should be loyal to? Shouldn’t a murdered body be reported? His saga shows the all around backwardness of the relationship between young African Americans and the police. Lack of trust fostered by the terrible history of the abuse of African-American by those in authority, has created this situation in Baltimore and other cities in our country.
Then we have Dookie and Michael, now pawns in Marlo’s operation and hustling to survive. Dookie reminds me of my favorite character from Season One – Wallace, another smart, homeless, child who was drawn into the drug game for survival, chewed up and spit out. Michael has found protection, but only through offering himself up to the exploitation of Marlo’s crew, only putting himself in more danger in the long run.
My friends and I have a saying about The Wire – “It doesn’t usually end well…” It builds tension, the fear that these characters could see their last breath at any moment. And it makes me angry…how do we protect these kids, or ones like them from the demons of society? And if we can’t, how are we, as Americans, as human beings, okay with that?
In ten episodes, some questions will be answered. However, more than likely, even more questions will be created.
Whatever happens, I’ll be watching.