See These, McNulty? These Are For You!
I love The Wire. I love it so much, I'd marry it--once my divorce from chocolate ice cream came through. That was the first thing I was told to "why don't you marry it?" back around first grade or so, and I'm nothing if not a fan of long-term commitment.
Sorry. Off-topic. Back to The Wire. It's a grand show, the best television has to offer. It takes you into the closest approximation of real-world environments possible. It tells an epic story of Biblical proportion on a grand scale. It features cops, criminals, politicians. Many characters are all three of those rolled into one. It's a gritty story about a gritty world.
That means there's swearing. Not a word here or there, like when you or I hit our thumbs with a hammer. No. In The Wire, they have raised the use of four-letter words to an art form. It's part of the cadence of their speech in the world of Baltimore crime and punishment. I don't doubt for an instance that the real-world hoppers and shorties and knockos have a language so woven with expletives that it would make a sailor blush. The show is created by a former reporter who lived in that world for most of a year and a former police officer-turned-teacher who lived in many facets of that world for upwards of seventeen years. That's why I don't mind the cursing. It's part of that world, to which I have bought a ticket.
Last night they started showing The Wire on BET. These episodes are sanitised for your protection. And they're AWFUL. Just horrible. Or at least the 4 minutes I sat through were excruciating. The censors seem to have this extremely wierd idea of what constitutes 'ok for tv' and what doesn't. This means that F---- is bleeped, but S--- isn't. Large portions of dialogue--crucial to setting up character relationships and personalities--are either bleeped heavily or chopped into non-existence. The most ridiculous part was the confrontation between Rawls and McNulty where Rawls delivers most of the speech while saluting McNulty with Tall Man.
They blurred Rawls' fingers. And the fingers only--not the whole hand.
Because obviously no one watching has ANY idea that he was holding up his middle fingers.
I've already told my parents not to watch The Wire, because I don't think they could get past the language to find the story. I'm upfront about it. This is a rough story about rough lives and rough people.
After last night I'm convinced that it has no place on basic cable.