The Wire & Obama

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I always find it interesting when entertainment media question prominent political figures regarding their popular culture, or in this case, television, tastes. As discussed in class, this article looks at Obama’s TV pastimes, taking note of his favorite characters and programming. What do we learn from this? That our President is a fan of both The Wire and Entourage. And according to a pop culture professor at Syracuse (Karen, why weren’t you called for comment?), Obama’s taste is “cool,” indicative of the internet age and our generally youth-based culture.

Now, as a new viewer of The Wire, I was particularly interested in looking at the show from an audience perspective. Aside from the critical endorsement for the program, I’m curious as to what additional fan base The Wire maintains. Would an Entourage fan also reserve an hour for this Baltimore drama? Can a viewer go from an Ari Gold quip to a grisly shooting scene?

My viewing experience, as echoed by Obama, would prove that television as a form of entertainment is a bit like an all-you-can-eat buffet: there are way too many options, but let’s face it, you’ll probably mix and match. More specifically, while it did take me a few episodes to really submerge into the characters and story-lines in The Wire, I was so impressed by the quality of the show that I plan to set a few hours (or weeks) aside over winter break to start the series from the beginning. And although I am not necessarily an Entourage fan, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my fill of cheesy dramedies or absurdist sitcoms. Essentially, I am trying to question the point of the article above. Because I don’t necessarily think that our television tastes are anymore indicative than our orders in a restaurant. I suppose this is why immensely successful (in terms of audience size) television series only come around every so often — it is extremely difficult to tap into our tastes on a mass level.

On a completely different note, I wanted to quickly discuss my initial feeling on the Season 4 premiere episode of The Wire, specifically the series’ storytelling strategy. I was surprised by the breadth of story-lines and characters – it almost seemed as though each “beat” could exist on its own as a single episode. Yet The Wire manages to employ pretty strong transitions – I particularly enjoyed the overlapping cuts, seen between the teacher’s seminar and the police office meeting. Both would use Powerpoint. Accurate, I think. And despite the use of the title, I was unaware just how aptly the role of the wire would play. It turns out, it’s a pretty big role. This was made most obvious to me in the scene where the mayor is attempting to raise funds via his office phone while the police work through their wiretap to unmask criminal activity. At its core, it seems as though all of these story-lines deal with a need for communication, on a variety of planes.

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