Friday, March 11, 2011

Idiot Boksen - In Defense of Local News and "The Wire"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon
  • flickr
  • Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

As my colleague Dan Gibson mentioned yesterday, Felicia Pearson, who played Marlo Stanfield's enforcer "Snoop" on The Wire, was arrested in connection with a "large-scale heroin and marijuana operation". As if those two substances are somehow equal. The news was sad, but it wasn't particularly surprising, because The Wire was known to use local Baltimoreans, some of whom hadn't acted before, and many of whom knew the stories Wire creator David Simon and his crew were telling all too well.

Simon issued a statement to Slate befitting his extraordinary insight and writing ability.

"Both our Constitution and our common law guarantee that we will be judged by our peers. But in truth, there are now two Americas, politically and economically distinct. I, for one, do not qualify as a peer to Felicia Pearson. The opportunities and experiences of her life do not correspond in any way with my own, and her America is different from my own. I am therefore ill-equipped to be her judge in this matter."

Fortunately, the media's general response to Pearson's arrest has lacked the voyeuristic glee of other celebrity legal run-ins.

I'm going to take this time to tell you The Wire is the greatest television show ever made. I don't just mean it's the most important (which it is) or the most poignant (which it is). Those are buzzwords for boring. First and foremost, The Wire is entertaining. It never did particularly well, ratings-wise, and I think a lot of that had to do with daunting subject matter. A television show is about the drug trade in inner-city Baltimore (the scope broadens with each season), and largely focused on the culture of very poor African-Americans, doesn't sound very appealing to white middle to upper-middle class folks, the primary demographic of HBO's audience. A show like that sounds guilt-inducing. I promise you, it's not.

If you haven't seen The Wire, start with Season 1. Give it five episodes. I promise you won't regret it.

All times Arizona.

Tsunami/Earthquake Coverage - All the time. Any news channel.

My gosh, the footage many of us woke up to today was terrifying. Even as earthquakes still rock Japan, it feels like the devastation of this is going to take a while to set in. I hope all of us here in the US are praying and prepared to help as best we can.

Some small shred of good news: let's hear it for Japanese engineering. Early reports claim the 8.9 earthquake left Tokyo with only minor damage. That is astonishing.

In anticipation of what might happen to the Oregon Coast this morning, I was watching live streams of Portland news channels. It was typical local news stuff: a camera was trained on the beach and the poor newscasters had to talk over it. It was completely possible nothing would happen and tide would rise only a little. It was also completely possible a number of coastal communities could be wiped out and the devastation would be similar to what was happening in Japan. When it comes down to it, Oregon's local news crews were doing exactly what I'd want them to do, and we were all hoping nothing happened.

This wasn't enough for some Oregonians I follow on Twitter. One compared it to the overwrought coverage of winter storms.

"The only thing harder to watch than Portland's News (sic) coverage of almost no snow is our coverage of almost no waves"

I get Twitter is especially suited for that sort of snarky witticism, but give me a break. If Cannon Beach and Seaside, towns I've visited my whole life, are leveled by a freak wave, I don't want KGW airing reruns of Saved By the Bell when it happens. You know what usurps your weak attempt at humor? The potential destruction of your fellow Oregonians' homes. Seriously, suck an egg.

Big Love - Sunday, March 13th. 9 PM on HBO

Only two episodes left! I'm lagging on this season Big Love, but I was told last week's episode was one of the best they've ever had, so there's that. I'm really going to be sad when this is gone. Big Love was one of those shows that creates its world so well you feel like you're escaping into it with each episode, and I'm going to miss that world greatly.

—-

You know, who cares what else is on? Television escapism is nice every once in a while, but pay attention to what's happening in Japan. It doesn't hurt to have too much empathy.

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