By Arturo R. García
So a little while back, this happened:
Oh yeah, watching Michael K. Williams as Omar Little smile and dance his way through a jazzed-up version of “The Farmer In The Dell” was definitely designed as a cringe-worthy moment–and that’s why it’s the perfect response to something like this becoming part of the legacy of The Wire:
Yes, if you have $25.56 to spare, you can sport just one of many Wire-inspired shirts, celebrating Omar as “a badass” instead of a cautionary tale. Of course, hopefully, you remembered to fill out your bracket determining who was the show’s coolest character. (Omar was the people’s choice, if you were wondering.)
Yes, I do get that if you tell a story, people will acquire it on their own terms. Yes, I do get that people value what they value and they’re no less entitled than the people who tell the story. And yes, I do know that some things of lesser import present the opportunity for greater humor. But when asked a question about the belated interest in “The Wire,” and about what that interest means to us, are the people who worked on the tale for eight years entitled to our own truths? Or will everyone have hurt feelings if we say, no, sorry, whether Omar is the coolest ever isn’t the salient debate for which we labored.
Because I said that much, or I tried to. But for want of a pronoun, the New York Times seemed to think that I was critiquing ordinary viewers who got there late to The Wire, or for failing to embrace the show on my terms. Ouch. What I intended to criticize specifically was a media culture that, when the chips are down, values what it does and little more. And yes, I did want to bite that hand, whether it feeds or not.
Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to reason with this cult of personality; last month, somebody at CNN(!) delivered maybe the ultimate insult, pronouncing the show “geeky.”