I know one thing: David Simon Earned That Buck.
The Wire is arguably the best drama ever televised. Arguably the best thing to ever air on that vast wasteland. The show’s complex and astute analysis of the city of Baltimore and its culture of corruption was both insightful and insanely entertaining.
Enter Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld. He’d prefer the city to be portrayed as a little sexier. Or maybe as more of a straight-shooter. He would like to tell you Baltimore is a good, honest city and probably has some 1099 job as a cafeteria worker down at the airport or something.
Bealefeld called The Wire a “smear on this city that will take decades to overcome,” saying, “You know what Miami gets in their crime show? They get detectives that look like models, and they drive around in sports cars. And you know what New York gets? They get these incredibly tough prosecutors, competent cops that solve the most crazy, complicated cases.”
He continued, “cases…(removes sunglasses) of murrrrder…” (no he didn’t. the video is here.)
He really continued, “What Baltimore gets is this reinforced notion that it’s a city full of hopelessness, despair and dysfunction. There was very little effort—beyond self-serving—to highlight the great and wonderful things happening here, and to indict the whole population, the criminal justice system, the school system.”
Don’t forget the press. City government. Lesbian infiltration of the police force, etc.
As the avclub.com noted, David Simon issued a rebuttal, which reads in part…
Publicly, let me state that The Wire owes no apologies—at least not for its depiction of those portions of Baltimore where we set our story, for its address of economic and political priorities and urban poverty, for its discussion of the drug war and the damage done from that misguided prohibition, or for its attention to the cover-your-ass institutional dynamic that leads, say, big-city police commissioners to perceive a fictional narrative, rather than actual, complex urban problems as a cause for righteous concern. As citizens using a fictional narrative as a means of arguing different priorities or policies, those who created and worked on The Wire have dissented.
Commissioner Bealefeld may not be comfortable with public dissent, or even a public critique of his agency. He may even believe that the recent decline in crime entitles him to denigrate as “stupid” or “slander” all prior dissent, as if the previous two decades of mismanagement in the Baltimore department had not happened and should not have been addressed by any act of storytelling, given that Baltimore is no longer among the most violent American cities, but merely a very violent one.
Others might reasonably argue, however that it is not sixty hours of The Wire that will require decades for our city to overcome, as the commissioner claims. A more lingering problem might be two decades of bad performance by a police agency more obsessed with statistics than substance, with appeasing political leadership rather than seriously addressing the roots of city violence, with shifting blame rather than taking responsibility. That is the police department we depicted in The Wire, give or take our depiction of some conscientious officers and supervisors. And that is an accurate depiction of the Baltimore department for much of the last twenty years, from the late 1980s, when cocaine hit and the drug corners blossomed, until recently, when Mr. O’Malley became governor and the pressure to clear those corners without regard to legality and to make crime disappear on paper finally gave way to some normalcy and, perhaps, some police work. Commissioner Bealefeld, who was present for much of that history, knows it as well as anyone associated with The Wire.
Mr. Commissioner, you want it to be one way…but it’s the other way.
(Haha, that’s a quote from the show. LOLZ)