Obama Watches The Wire, Do You?
No matter who you're voting for, you have to admit that Barack Obama has good taste in TV. He told the Las Vegas Sun that his favorite TV show was The Wire, the HBO police drama set in inner-city Baltimore that just completed its fifth and final season. Obama even told the Sun that his favorite character is Omar Little, a "charismatic, sawed-off shotgun toting, Honey Nut Cheerios-eating, gay stickup artist." Some have compared Omar to a modern day Robin Hood because he kills drug dealers and then gives the drugs to the users that have been exploited by the dealers. “That’s not an endorsement. He’s not my favorite person, but he’s a fascinating character,” Obama said.
This is not an endorsement -- for Obama, anyway -- either. But it is an endorsement for the issues and perspectives that are explored throughout the five seasons of The Wire -- those of urban policy and inner-city reality. During the current presidential administration, and throughout this campaign season, the issues of cities have been woefully ignored. We've heard about Iowa corn and ethanol and more than we ever wanted to know about the candidates' personal lives, bowling scores, and nutty pastors. But what about housing and transportation, infrastructure and education? To millions of Americans, these are the issues that matter. As mayor after mayor said in interviews on MayorTV, urban issues are crucial to the country and have been overlooked by the federal government.
The Wire's creator and producer David Simon, however, has addressed these urban issues head-on. Throughout the five seasons of The Wire, Simon has built a fictional-yet-real city in the city of Baltimore. He's wrestled with police corruption, drug gangs, and public health. He has looked at nonprofits, family life, and the inner-city school system. Finally, in the last season, Simon explored the newspaper and journalists who wrote about the city. And throughout it all, Simon has constructed multi-dimensional characters, an almost-literary narrative, and managed to embrace the complexities (and frequently the corruption) of inner-city life and politics. Although the drama takes place in Baltimore, Simon has said it is an allegory for the cities across the country.
Next Tuesday, May 20, DMI will be honoring David Simon with our annual Drum Major for Justice Award "for deftly exploring the realities of America's neglected cities." We'll also be honoring PowerPAC.org founder Steve Phillips and New York City Councilwomen Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The Benefit will be held at Cipriani 23rd Street in New York City. Student/activist/blogger priced tickets are available. We'll also be having a fantastic auction with items such as lunch with political consultant James Carville and lunch with SEUI's Andy Stern. The items for auction are up on eBay (more details on this later) so even if you can't attend the event you can still bid on the items.
Obama -- if he weren't busy doing that whole running-for-president thing -- would want to hear what David Simon has to say about cities. Don't you?
*photo credit to Mother Jones*