Well, sheeeeeet. It's been nearly three years since the last episode of HBO's "The Wire." In those three years, there has yet to be a drama to hit the boob tube worthy of comparison. Many critics and fans, including myself, believe the show to be the highwater mark of scripted television drama. However, not all hold these opinions, especially Baltimore's Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. He's sick and tired of hearing his city compared to the show. He doesn't mind speaking his mind about it, either. Bealefeld recently slammed the show at recent forum, calling the show "a smear on this city that will take decades to overcome." David Simon, the creator of "The Wire" and a 13-year Baltimore Sun City Desk beat reporter, fired back with his own response. Video and Simon's response for all you B-More bros after the jump.
Damn. Where's Omar when you need him. "It's just all in the game yo, all in the game." Here's David Simon's classy rebuttal:
Publicly, let me state that The Wire owes no apologies—at least not for its depiction of those portions of Baltimore where we set our story, for its address of economic and political priorities and urban poverty, for its discussion of the drug war and the damage done from that misguided prohibition, or for its attention to the cover-your-ass institutional dynamic that leads, say, big-city police commissioners to perceive a fictional narrative, rather than actual, complex urban problems as a cause for righteous concern. As citizens using a fictional narrative as a means of arguing different priorities or policies, those who created and worked on The Wire have dissented.
Commissioner Bealefeld may not be comfortable with public dissent, or even a public critique of his agency. He may even believe that the recent decline in crime entitles him to denigrate as "stupid" or "slander" all prior dissent, as if the previous two decades of mismanagement in the Baltimore department had not happened and should not have been addressed by any act of storytelling, given that Baltimore is no longer among the most violent American cities, but merely a very violent one.
Others might reasonably argue, however that it is not sixty hours of The Wire that will require decades for our city to overcome, as the commissioner claims. A more lingering problem might be two decades of bad performance by a police agency more obsessed with statistics than substance, with appeasing political leadership rather than seriously addressing the roots of city violence, with shifting blame rather than taking responsibility. That is the police department we depicted in The Wire, give or take our depiction of some conscientious officers and supervisors. And that is an accurate depiction of the Baltimore department for much of the last twenty years, from the late 1980s, when cocaine hit and the drug corners blossomed, until recently, when Mr. O'Malley became governor and the pressure to clear those corners without regard to legality and to make crime disappear on paper finally gave way to some normalcy and, perhaps, some police work. Commissioner Bealefeld, who was present for much of that history, knows it as well as anyone associated with The Wire.