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September 12, 2008 2:25 PM   Subscribe

WireFilter: David Simon speaks at USC Law on journalism and The Wire. (Youtube - 1:22:50; a few mic/sound problems in the first few minutes)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (16 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
god i can't wait to watch this..
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 2:43 PM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great, thanks for posting this! Hopefully he will explain why he made the newspaper subplot so heavy handed and needlessly didactic :-)
posted by dhammond at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't find the newspaper subplot nearly as heavy handed as most did. And I certainly didn't find the writing any more didactic than the rest of the series (which is to say, astonishingly little for a series of this nature). It was certainly a more conventional story in that it went for the "big liar" story we've seen time and time before, but like I said it didn't necessarily bother me.

For one, the amount of young journalists in my generation who are playing hard and fast with rules is shocking. I swear to you, with the advent of the internet and the increased ability to naturally police plagiarism in schools, there is a whole generation of journalists making up their articles wholesale for their classes. The numbers of students doing this are way under represented.

I'd actually say the bigger problem with, well, perhaps the "obtuseness" of season 5's subplot was the casting of Templeton and the editors. I love Thomas McCarthy (the station agent is a tremendous film) but he kind of played Templeton with a generic dopey selfishness. Templeton really should have been a young, scared kid (as is often the case) or the charmer (as is often the case). It would have made him a much more sympathetic, or interesting figure respectively. A lot of kids feel pressure in the newsroom because they're replacing older reporters who had higher salaries and just want to show they're not inferior. The casting of the editors just exasperated that with their generic wide-eyed naivety with no brains or humility. Gus was great as the crusading figure, but matched up against those guys it comes off as one sided. Someone a little less obtuse, or even a nice guy in their naivety would have fit the standard "wire-brand" of even-handedness much better. And not a WORD of the script would have changed.

Really I just think it shows how easy it is to get something wrong with a show and how hard it is to get something right.

Which they did for 4 straight seasons.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2008


Another random thought on season 5

The other reason I think it gets a lot of flack is because the main point of the entire newspaper subplot was something they couldn't "show" whatsoever: that the newspaper missed every single story in the course of the series. The time it was most apparent time this occurred was with Omar's shooting not getting a blurb (they went with a house fire).

It's much more difficult to not show something in order to make a point but I was still surprised how many people missed it. Especially in the criticism arena.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:23 PM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


hmmmm

he starts talking about this around 42 minute mark
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:07 PM on September 12, 2008


I remember during some of the press he did near the end of the fifth season he talked about how not a single media outlet, in their race to judge the accuracy of David Simon's Newsroom and point out the cliche of a reporter making things up, actually understood that main point about the newspaper missing out on all of the "real" stuff happening. So very meta. I hope he rubs that in some more.
posted by palidor at 5:35 PM on September 12, 2008


They need to re-shoot season 5. It is just horrible. Seasons 1-3 are where the magic are.
posted by vronsky at 5:46 PM on September 12, 2008


just finished

That was fantastic.

Thank you kindly fearful symmetry
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:55 PM on September 12, 2008


I must agree that the fifth season was, by a large margin, the least successful.

To be perfectly honest, I just didn't find the journalistic angle very interesting. The characters didn't have the moral ambiguity that all the other characters had: Some newsmen were Good and others were Bad, and the baddies (including special guest stars Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck), of course, won. There were occasional displays of editorial power, but no real struggles against them. Maybe that was the point? Meh.

Worst of all, though, was the wholesale shark-jumping WRT McNulty and, especially, Freamon. That whole serial killer thing was just, um... Well, I get why they were doing it (alcoholism, frustration, funds), but, you know, I just didn't buy the idea that they would do it. That pure evil lyin' journalist dude, maybe, but Freamon?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:23 PM on September 12, 2008


My biggest issue was (and hopefully I'm correct in remembering this) that it had far fewer (relatively speaking) episodes than the other seasons. So I felt like things were crammed in there, and they ran through certain stories much quicker than they would've in other seasons.
posted by inigo2 at 6:27 PM on September 12, 2008


I must agree that the fifth season was, by a large margin, the least successful.

nooooooo. totally disagree. second best after season 3 ('hamsterdam').
posted by krautland at 6:53 PM on September 12, 2008


Nah, the horns of defeat for season 5 :-(
posted by vronsky at 7:48 PM on September 12, 2008


The McNulty subplot and also that Omar escape (???) made this one of the lesser seasons. Of course, as someone said, fiction, unlike reality, has to make sense, and the McNulty setup didn't seem plausible.
posted by Gyan at 9:23 PM on September 12, 2008


that Omar escape

Apparently that was based on something that actually happened. Read somewhere that the real-life character Omar was based on made a jump (off a bridge?) that nine times out of ten would have killed you.

Though season 5 kinda didn't work was well as the rest (yeah the newspaper characters could have been more nuanced), I thought the serial killer thing worked (though some of Jimmy's drunk acting was a bit, well, broad in parts...)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:05 AM on September 13, 2008


second best after season 3

Hey, look! It's Bizarro Sys Rq! (The order of goodness is in fact 4, 2, 1, 3, 5.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:56 AM on September 13, 2008


You can spot a philosophical angle on anything. You know, maybe...maybe it's just tv show...
posted by Student of Man at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2008


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