Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Freakonomics does "The Wire"

Sudhir Venkatesh (best known for his gang studies that were analyzed in Freakonomics) evaluates the authenticity of "The Wire" with a bunch of older and experienced thugs.

More on the economics of "The Wire" from blogger "YouNotSneaky!"

32 comments:

The Cybrarian said...

That's so fabulous!
Mmm, pork rinds and hot sauce...

I agree McNulty's going to get taken down. He's too pretty.
And Marlo is totally going to kill Prop Joe.

HoCoJoe said...

One of these day's I'll have to start watching the wire. Maybe I'll add it to my netflix que.

The Cybrarian said...

That's really the way to go, then you can turn on the subtitles and actually understand what they're saying. Skip season 2 though. Big yawn.

ppatin said...

I disagree about Marlo and Prop Joe, I think that the killing will be the other way around. Marlo is too uppity, whereas Prop Joe is the sort of guy who works within the system. In David Simon's worldview people who step out of line always end up getting smacked down. There was also something Marlo said a while back, where someone warned him to be a little more low-key. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something like "I don't care what happens as long as I got to be king." I think (and I know I may be reaching here) that he was predicting his own demise in a way.

Anonymous said...

I thought Season 2 was good, a nice change of pace from all the other seasons and expanded the scope of the crime problems in Baltimore to not just be about poor black people.

Anonymous said...

I think Prop Joe, being the business man he is, will work out a deal with Chris & Snoop and will have them whack Marlo and take over Marlo's turf. He's losing his and now he'll have an excuse to move in on Marlo now that he challenged him.

John Galt said...

While we're talking economics, how about the City's lawsuit against Wells Fargo because much of its subprime lending is in communities which are 80% afro-american ?

Well, it's also true that over half of all Baltimore communities have median household income under $39,000 and black racial composition over 70%.

Yes, they lend at a premium to people who are black and poor (ergo, high-risk). The alternative would be....

...to not lend (but at market rate) to those same people who are still going to be black and poor.


Many years ago, that was called redlining.

John Galt said...

Shooting near Walbrook HS. Also, there were two separate unrelated shootings yesterday on the West Side.

badfish said...

shooting in southwest bmore from the sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-shooting0109,0,5076565.story

John Galt said...

Here's another shooting in SW, and detail on three others yesterday.

So glad to know that City officials tell us reported violent crime is down. I feel sooooo much safer.

John Galt said...

And the Mayor's top priority for dealing with crime is ... counseling.

eebmore said...

Season 2 is when The Wire really got good.

New York guys, who are not that familiar with the story lines, giving their take? That whole RICO thing shows how much they know about Baltimore. I’m suddenly reminded of Kevin P. Clark and his organized crime unit.

But yes, McNulty is totally going down. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always hated McNulty.

I just saw the second episode from this season (an insignificant spoiler alert). In the scene where the girl is speaking at the NA meeting about her tricking... totally inaccurate. One of the first things they tell women in NA meetings is to NOT talk about tricking. If they do, half the attendants will be offering her drugs for sex five minutes after the meeting.

ppatin said...

I thought that McNulty used to have roguish charm (plus Rawls hated him, which is always a plus) but at this point he's just an asshole. There is also no way that The Bunk is crooked.

BTW, maybe we'll finally figure out what exactly went on with Daniels in the past. There were always hints that he'd had some crooked dealings, but it never went further than that.

John Galt said...

On a more nonfictional note, has anyone wondered just why it is that Federal prosecution seems so much more effective, even when RICO is not invoked?

It has less to do with the stringency of federal law than with a teensy, tinsy administrative distinction between state and federal courts:

...their juries.


The jury pool for Baltimore Circuit Court is restricted to Baltimore City limits.

The U.S. District Court for the State of Maryland, however, is divided into two divisions, Southern and Northern.

A defendant charged in the Northern division gets jurors from Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties and Baltimore City.

Nothing like the familiar ol' local crew who show up at the Mitchell Courthouse for group aquittals irrespective of the facts of the case.

What we need to do is to legislatively authorize the Circuit Court to use the U.S. District Court's jury pool for its jury plan.

Simple, easy solution.

John Galt said...

If they're looking for witches, they're on the right track.

Anonymous said...

I am so not surprised that the folks on this blog didn't like the white people season of the wire

ppatin said...

Goddamnit, where'd my white bedsheets go!

:rolleyes:

ppatin said...

I actually liked the second season (maybe that's because I think ports and big container ships are cool) although I think that Ziggy was the most annoying character in the history of television. I was hoping that he'd end up dying a really horrible, violent death.

The Cybrarian said...

Yes, I hate watching white people on TV. Every time BBC World News is on I throw pork rinds and hot sauce at the screen.

I swear, we can't turn on anon comments for 24 hours without getting weirdos!

eebmore said...

More so than Steve Urkel? Okay, I'll concede he's a close second. I think death would have been preferable to Ziggy's fate.

eebmore said...

I watch BBC for the hot Indian (asian... whatever) newswomen (newsreaders... again, whatever). Then, everyone thinks I’m all smart and discriminating about my journalism media, when in actuality I just like Desi tail.

badfish said...

sheesh, first off the wire doesn't get enough viewers because the cast is mostly black. then when people don't like a season where more white people are cast, it's because they don't like seeing white people in these scenes and situations. make up your mind.

quit being selfish anon it has nothing to do about race. what a cop out.

The Cybrarian said...

sigh, should we turn anon comments back off?

non said...

I can't believe some other anonymous dude blew it for me already.

ok, before my chance to comment is once again revoked: my prayer for The Wire this season is that Omar stays alive.

The Cybrarian said...

I wonder if Omar's still with that caliente vato.

I haven't turned them off yet, I'm asking you guys. They annoy the hell out of me and bring the quality of dialouge way way down in my opinion, but if you readers enjoy drunken boors who're too wussed to sign a name, I'll attempt to suck it up!

ppatin said...

I'd say leave them on for now, but turn them off if you get a couple more dumb comments. Maybe that one was a fluke. Generally though, internet anonymity breeds stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Did you see the movie where Ziggy jerks off FOR REAL? It's called KEN PARK. Netflix has it. Google it. It's not fake!

non said...

Ok, I signed myself in legitimately, so do whatever you want.

eebmore said...

The Wire doesn’t get enough viewers because it is bleak, difficult to follow, demands a huge investment of time and attention from the viewer, is not easy to understand much of the dialogue for many, and most importantly, David Simon is completely uncompromising... often at the expense of viewership (except for the occasional pointless nude or fuck shot... which typically irritate me). The race of the characters has nothing to do with the poor ratings.

Unfortunately, for reasons that I’ll never understand, one of the biggest complaints you hear about season 2 is that it has too many white people. Even smart people say this. I suppose that is not one aspect of “Simon’s Baltimore” that many fans are not interested in seeing.

example 1

example 2

I don’t think that racism is their problem. In the case of the first example I think the writer appreciates the show, on some level, as a voyeuristic view into a world that is completely foreign. He or she builds empathy that is more poignant because it is for characters never before considered empathetic to that critic. Maybe white people are a distraction to that experience... somehow. In the case of the second example (a friend of mine... on some level), I think maybe working class whites distract from his own Baltimorean experience and professional mission, thereby making the second season less poignant.

For me, season one was just a really damn good police procedural of the HBO vein. Season two is when The Wire opened up into something transformative and historic. Season two is when The Wire became the best show in the history of American television, regardless of the race of the characters.

Meh. Whatever. It just bugs me when people criticise season 2 for being too white.

The Cybrarian said...

euch, why would anyone want to watch some oily guy make call on the bone-a-phone? That it's real makes it worse, geez!

Bethlehem Shoals said...

Eebmore, I think you linked to the wrong post of mine. This one starts with the "too white" revulsion and then explains how i got past (or around) it.

eebmore said...

Oops. Thanks for the correct link, Beth.

I’m glad you gave the season a second viewing. For what it’s worth, my second example (A Baltimore City public school teacher) also gave the season a second chance and has since similarly changed his view.

Still, it drives me batty that people develop that first impression.