David Simon x Vice Magazine

Those of you out there who are die hard fans of critically acclaimed HBO darling The Wire are more than familiar with series creator David Simon. The one-time Baltimore Sun reporter had already crafted  TV masterpieces with Homicide: Life on the Street and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighborhood, but the five season visual novella depicting the hustle-bustle of Baltimore street life and political doldrums in between serves his as magnum opus at present time.

The interview with Vice Magazine, running eight pages long, includes a spectrum of Wire-related topics (Why no sixth season?/How did you feel killing off ____?/Does life imitate art or vice-versa?) and will clear up a few loose ends for some fans as Simon is always honest about his work. The highlight of the interview to me was this particular bit:

That’s another thing I was thinking about. People like Clay Davis or Carcetti or Rawls or Levy, they all thrive. What unites them? I kind of know the answer to this, but I’d like to hear how you put it.
They sublimate any moral imperative to their own personal ambition. They wed themselves to the capitalist construct and they embrace the status quo at all costs. Some of them become that person by degrees, in the case of Carcetti, and some of them are that person from jump, like Levy or Clay Davis. Some people do it without a great deal of ambition or greed. Burrell, all he wanted to do was preserve his job. He wasn’t looking to get promoted. He certainly didn’t think he was going beyond commissioner in any way. He just wanted his institution not to be humiliated. He wanted to avoid all negative publicity. He’s literally the guy in a Skinner box. He’s a pigeon that doesn’t want to be shot. So he lives life on those terms.

Even though that isn’t as conniving as someone like Clay Davis, it’s still pretty ignoble.
But all the characters who are serving the institutions, who are so self-preserving and self-aggrandizing, they are rigorous about always making the wrong choice when it comes to a societal good, to a communal good. And you know what? I was a reporter for a lot of years. I actually believe that’s how the city works or doesn’t work. I wrote a book about what was wrong with the drug trade, the drug war. It was very carefully researched and it made clear that this was a fool’s errand. I watched a councilman who was running for mayor go to the corner where I wrote the book, hold a copy of the book up in front of the TV cameras, and say that if he were elected mayor he would fight the drug war for real and he would win it. Well, he became mayor and he fought as a drug warrior and he clipped the stats and he made it sound like crime was going down when crime wasn’t going down and now he’s the governor of Maryland.

Well hey at least Baltimore’s ex-mayor wasn’t once a state representative who also broke the numerous promises he made during his campaign, en route to political infamy via an adultery-laden text SNAFU. Then again, it’s probably just as bad so fuck them both.

[via VICE Magazine]