Art, Life, Vengeance, and David Simon 01/10/2008
Mark Bowden has an interesting piece about David Simon and The Wire in this month's Atlantic Monthly. Bowden explores the despair and futility that underlie the brilliant storytelling, but then the piece turns into something more ad hominem and less interesting. Now that Simon's taking on big city journalism as well as big city police departments and public education, a number of journalists—tentatively, regretfully, while still expressing their love and admiration for the show—have begun to express some skepticism about Simon and his motives. You can see it in the two guys blogging the show in Slate, and you can see it again in Bowden, and what's unfortunate in both cases is how much their argument depends on an ad hominem judgment of Simon himself, rather than a critique of what he's saying (though there's some of that, too). Which is ironic, because part of what they're accusing him of is being overly ad hominem himself, in his attacks on some of his old editors at the Baltimore Sun. The upshot of Bowden's article seems to be that Bowden considers Simon a brilliant artist who is entitled to say what he likes, however dark, about Baltimore, journalism, the state of the world—unless he says something nasty about one of Bowden's friends, in which case David Simon is a bitter, cynical hack.
In which I mostly write about books, movies, and TV. An all-purpose spoiler alert: Sometimes I will talk about these works on the assumption that the reader's already read or seen them, so if you haven't, be forewarned.
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