Tag: The Wire

September 23, 2013 / / Entertainment

By Arturo R. García

Maybe Damon Wayans said it best about Sunday night:

Surprising? No. But still disconcerting to see play out, both on TV and online, perhaps most vividly after Scandal‘s Kerry Washington lost the award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series to Homeland star Claire Danes. Not only were regular viewers ticked off, but as Trudy at Gradient Lair pointed out, even Washington’s castmates called the voters out:

Hopefully nobody holds Columbus Short’s remarks against the show when nomination season rolls around again.
Read the Post Open Thread: The 2013 Emmy Awards

January 25, 2013 / / Entertainment

by Arturo Garcia and Joseph Lamour

(Note: NSFW language in the clip above)

R.I.P. Robert F. Chew: Just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Mr. Chew, best known for playing Proposition Joe on The Wire. But in the wake of his passing, his work off-camera training young actors in Baltimore is also coming to light:

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Chew graduated from Patterson High School and attended Morgan State University where he sang in the school’s world-renown choir. He was working full time in Baltimore area theater since the early 1980s. He continued to teach in the Arena Players Youth Theatre after “The Wire” ended production here in 2007.

“He was a triple threat,” said Catherine Orange, director of Baltimore’s Arena Players youth theater. “He could act, he could dance and he could sing. He was an extraordinary teacher and director for us. He believed in our kids and was a task master.”

In 2006, Mr. Chew helped 22 of his students land parts in Simon’s landmark series.

“Whenever I had to dig deep and find kids who not only had the talent but the reality and the belief, kids who didn’t look like the ones in a Jell-O commercial, I called Robert,” Moran said Friday.

Also recommended is Kevin Van Valkenburg’s tribute to Chew:

He was a teacher who worked really hard to give kids growing up in the inner city exposure to the arts, which no an easy task, especially when you consider that art is always first on the chopping block when people criticize the school system and insist we need to trim the budget to get rid of “waste.”

–AG

Read the Post Entertainment Roundup 1.18-24.13

June 20, 2012 / / comedy

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:

Courtesy: of Redbubble.com

Read the Post The Wire: The Musical!’ Takes Aim At Pop Culture Reductionism

March 27, 2012 / / diversity

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

It’s an old and uninteresting complaint: black characters on TV–and horror movies–get killed or written off too early. Clearly, that is what’s been happening on The Walking Dead with T-Dog. (UPDATE: The arrival of a new character signals a possible shift in season three.).

I’m going to try to push the debate further, past “isn’t it a shame characters of color get short shrift.” The truth is the T-Dog Problem signals broader problems with The Walking Dead and some other prominent dramas. It’s a symptom of an ailment the writers might actually care to remedy, beyond appeasing black viewers.

First, the basics. Earlier this season T-Dog told Dale he was concerned about being black and a weak link in the group. This was an insightful moment from the writers, foregrounding the idea that being different after the apocalypse might be a problem–after all, in times of stress, people stick to their own–and an interesting meta-commentary on the fragility of being a black character on TV. T-Dog was a great candidate for a quick kill. Then T-Dog disappeared. I literally forgot all about him until last week, when he had one line that was almost comically interrupted. This week T-Dog was similarly marginalized, leading Vulture‘s recapper to state: “By this point, the casual dismissal of one of two minority characters…on this show is feeling extremely suspect. The only thing saving it from being full-on offensive is that the same treatment is being given to Hershel’s entire white family.”

The problem isn’t only about a tired debate over representation.

Read the Post The Walking Dead And The Real Diversity Problem On (Some) Ambitious Dramas

April 25, 2011 / / black

By Guest Contributor Filmi Girl

I was beyond thrilled when I got word that the first African-American actor to have a major role in a Bollywood film, Jonnie Louis Brown, was willing to speak to me for this interview series. However, when I mentioned to some friends that I was going to be interviewing Jonnie, the responses I got were all some variation of, “He’s so scary!” In the United States, Jonnie is best known for his portrayal of the sadistic Officer Eddie Walker on HBO’s The Wire, a standout performance on a show packed with talented actors. Bollywood fans will know Jonnie from Apne, in which he played the toughest, fiercest boxer in the world.

Jonnie laughs when I tell him of my friends’ reactions. “You want to hear something funny?” Filmi Girl always wants to hear something funny. “What’s funny about all those roles is that I almost did not land any of them because the directors and writers thought I was so nice that I could not do it!” The good-natured man on the other end of the line certainly doesn’t sound as if he would steal money from kids, as Officer Walker did on The Wire. “It was just completely ridiculous, they were like, ‘He’s too nice, too clean looking! How can he… I don’t believe it.’ And then when they see me perform it’s like, ‘OH MY GOD!’”

Bollywood audiences also cried “Hai Bhagwaan!” when they saw Jonnie in Apne. For those of you who missed the 2007 Deol family film, Apne is, naturally, the story of a father and his two sons. Dharmenda plays an ex-boxing champ trying to repair his family ties by training up his son, played by Sunny Deol, to become a boxing champ. Jonnie plays the World Champion Sunny must defeat to gain closure. A Bollywood hero is only as tough as the villain he defeats and Jonnie’s performance in the ring allowed Sunny Deol to give the audience a victory that meant something.

“My first impression of Bollywood films was that I didn’t have one,” begins Jonnie. “I didn’t know quite what to make of the films; I had to really sit down and absorb and concentrate on what I was seeing, on what my senses were actually feeling.” But unlike some of the less enlightened film critics who enjoy mocking the filmi style of Bollywood, Jonnie’s years of acting experience allowed him to see past the cultural differences. “I came to realize right away how good the actors and actresses were in Bollywood. They are so good at what they do and they are so centered in the fundamentals of acting that it almost goes unnoticed because the creativity in their films is so high and their dance numbers and sequences are so large that their acting often gets overshadowed by that.”

It’s an astute observation from an actor who is used to thinking outside of the box. When I ask Jonnie why he decided to audition for a Bollywood film, he explains, “Being an African-American male in the United States, the work is very sparse, very difficult. Most of the writers and screenplay writers in the United States are Caucasian and they’re also male, so African-American males are mostly thought of, when it comes to screenplay writing, like an afterthought. The roles for us are sidekick or best friend until you reach that status of, say, a Denzel Washington or a Will Smith. The new opportunities are not necessarily there for us like there are for other ethnicities, unfortunately. So the chances for me playing Superman out of the blue will not happen. It’s one of those things where that’s just how it is.” He laughs. “What’s funny is that I hear my Caucasian actor friends say that there are so many more of them and that the competition is so fierce. But what I tell them is that there are more jobs for you, too. The experience for us [African-American actors] is a little bit different and because of that experience, that’s when you start considering things outside the box.” Read the Post Jonnie Lewis Brown: Outsider In Bollywood [Culturelicious]

January 14, 2011 / / books
April 2, 2010 / / announcements
January 26, 2010 / / politics

by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual


Get ready for reason #573 why The Wire was the best television show of the aughts. In the wake of Scott Brown’s upset in the Massachusetts special election for the U.S. Senate, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cycle of politics. I’ve been a pretty steady proponent of the politics of idealism and, borrowing from Tony Kushner, the ethical responsibility to hope, but the aftermath of Martha Coakley’s defeat may test my resolve. Where can I find the blueprint for my incipient cynicism? The Wire, of course!

The Wire’s central thesis was simple: short-term politics and the quest for power kills long-term progress and social justice. From gangs to government, the media to schools, the same rule applies. Everyone, sadly, violates the rule. They think about themselves and the system never gets fixed. This is the fundamental cynicism of The Wire: it perfectly diagnoses how groups and institutions kill hope. Read the Post Did “The Wire” Presage Politics Post-2008?