Give the user some
CC and I had some incredibly productive words last week on the subject of gettin’ high and its relevance to The Wire. What we both seem to agree on is that, while The Corner was draped in junk, rot, and renewal, over its four seasons the show of our dreams has taken some drastic steps to minimize (no NA) the role of actual drug use in its tapestry of facts. At this point, Bubbles has shed his pathetic, self-destructive self, once symbolized by Johnny, and become a self-made hustler, friend of the law, and advocate for education. Even Hamsterdamn, which could’ve been cast as a blow for the rights/personal struggle of the individual, truly had the block like the Dawn of the Dead.
While no one should expect The Wire to glamorize controlled substances, it has also been surprisingly opaque when it comes to their role in the socio-psycho-drama known, mightily informally, as THE GAME. Season 1 at times seemed cut from the same cloth as what I’ve seen of The Corner, going so far as to introduce a ludicrous “Bubbles and Johnny clean up” storyline, have Steve Earle drop by to give a motivational speech, and just generaly languish over this most grimy of human predicaments. Depending on how much interest you have in this matter of business, this was profound or disastrous. Now, though, users are a broken feature of the landscape, imbued with meaning only when they push along the plot or dramatically break the mold.
Funny about all this is that, in my limited experience with such lost souls, drug addicts love The Wire. While no one would ever want to identify with the kind of shit-out addicts depicted therein, there’s a general consensus that, in some sense, this show belongs to them. I take it to be something along these lines: The Wire illuminates absolutely everything surrounding an individual’s use without confronting it in itself; especially if one is looking to downplay the murdrous consequences of addiction, this is a cozy way to glom onto an near-operatic context. Most addicts would prefer to think of themselves—like Bubs—as a streetwise component of the grand hustle, rather than its object, the hustled. In emboldening the noble junkie, situating him within the web of bad-ass machinations, and reducing the lesser addicts to wandering scum, Simon successfully allows every self-glorifying user to embrace his show and their lifestyle with precious little honesty.
I would like to take this gorgeous opportunity to compare this to a certain strain of hipster’s love of cocaine rap, one that I don’t doubt plays a role in Wire-mania. Tales of moving crack by the bushel are exotic, raw, and decidedly alienating; after all, who among us wasn’t raised to consider crack like rat poison? However, when Clipse, Jeezy, Weezy, Juelz, Rick Ross, and any number of others switched it up and made yay the primary focus, it became something these kids could relate to. Hearing rappers exult over enormous quantities of powder cocaine is, for anyone remotely incline to themselves get excited about coke, a lot of fun. Thus, their affinity for consuming a drug opens out onto a gigiantic vista of hardcore fantasy, the original meaning of Scarface‘s climax reclaimed by some of the last people on earth to cop the anniversary DVD.
Allow me to head your rage off at the pass: this is not necessarily meant as a condemnation of The Wire or drug users. As someone who started a blog devoted solely to this program, I don’t think that my respect for it can be stressed enough. I simply want to suggest that, in the same way that schools are getting explored this season, perhaps the use side of things is a quadrant also deserving star treatment. And as for my frank discussion of drugs and people and music. . . just take it on faith that I know what I’m talking about.