Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What do Liberals and Conservatives think about the Wire?

I've been re-watching The Wire pretty much all week...HBO decided to run marathons and when you have a new infant, there's nothing you'd rather do than sit down on the couch and explain to her the intricacies of the Baltimore drug trade.

I spent a bunch of time re-watching parts of season 1, surprisingly enjoyed some time with season 2 the next day, and made sure I caught a decent chunk of season 3 (everyone's favorite)....and it got me thinking of a couple things.

The first was a much longer project that I thought of a couple years ago and never got around to. I want to do a Morality Power Ranking for the entire Wire cast...but jeez that's going to take forever even just to get everyone's list of awful sins straight. (Still a good idea though, and a much better subject for debate than Grantland's Wire bracket in my view).

But as I said, I'm not doing that. The other thing I was wondering about...is who is a more natural fan of the Wire? Hardcore liberals...or hardcore conservatives???

I don't think the answer is that straightforward.

I'm sure most people would argue that it's overtly liberal...in large part because I think the show's fan base tends to BE liberal. And sure, there are lots of things that would suggest it's aligned to a liberal point of view:

- The War of Drugs is a complete failure (pretty much the whole freaking series)
- Inner city youth have a woefully inadequate support system and/or safety net (season 4)
- Old, rich white people are frequently shown to have no clue (e.g., the guy from Johns Hopkins hiring Bunny Colvin, the newspaper publisher in season 5)
- And of course, the whole drug legalization experiment section of Season 3 is basically liberal policy porn

However, I think if a conservative wanted to make the argument, he/she could find a whole bunch of themes that fit with their worldview:

- Labor unions are ineffectual and corrupt (Season 2)
- Government officials are corrupt and driven largely by a desire for either money or power (season 4, any scene featuring Clay Davis)
- The lack of stable, nuclear family structure is what's lacking for inner city youth (season 4)

While the show itself does seem clear on a number of issues (e.g., end the war on drugs, community-based policing), I do think it's open enough to allow people on either side to claim it fits their philosophy. The conservatives would watch it and say, 'there's an example of how government solutions simply DO NOT work!', whereas the liberals would argue, 'there's an example of where we need different policies that WILL WORK!'

I'd be interested to hear more about how typical liberals or conservatives feel about the show. And I definitely think they should start the series back up for a sixth season...can you imagine The Wire doing a season on the healthcare system???

Come on HBO - that needs to happen.

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