We have a ritual. On Monday night we watch The Wire while we eat dinner.
I have my own ritual. I watch it Monday while I eat lunch because I have no patience whatsoever. If it wasn’t on so late, I’d just stay up and watch it.
Last night when we sat down I told Kevin that I thought his opinion of one of the characters would be adjusted in this episode. Oh, I didn’t think he’d suddenly like the guy. I just thought he’d hate him less.
You see, The Wire is the kind of show that can make you love the “bad” guys. In season 1 I was hooked on D’Angelo Barksdale, a murderer and in line to inherit the Barksdale drug enterprise.
And I still am crazy about Omar, the gun-slinging killer who robs drug dealers.
But a new breed of dealers has been in town, courtesy of Marlo Stanfield, and his muscle is a new breed of muscle. A kind of calculated heartlessness. And every week, Kevin mutters about why those two haven’t been offed yet.
Well duh. Because everyone shits bricks when those two come around. You take a walk down an alley with them and you don’t come back.
One of the other storylines being developed this season centers around a boy. Young teenager. I’ve known for ages that this kid was sexually abused by his stepfather. It’s never been said but the character is played brilliantly. It is just the looks, the way he responds to being alone with men, that clue you in.
So, last week he was at his limit. Stepdaddy has come home, and he’s trying to assert control over the family. The kid isn’t quite big enough to give the ol’ man a whipping. He also doesn’t know how to trust people who seem to be nice.
Which is why he turned to Marlo Stanfield’s hitters. Specifically, Chris.
Now, we all know Chris is a killer. That’s pretty much all I’ve seen him do – that, and drive his boss around.
Last night, his job was to help Michael out with his problem. Felicia, or Snoop as she’s called, asks Michael, “What the fuck he ever do to you?”
Chris looks at Michael. And Michael looks at him, and not a word is said. Chris breaks it off and says it’s on.
And when he meets up with stepdaddy later, he asks him if he likes little boys before he beats the man to death, leaving him a bloody pulp in an alley.
You know, you have to have a certain respect for a character like that. Episode after episode Chris has gone around, killing someone. And usually it’s someone he knows. He and Snoop have a systematic approach that’s kept them from getting caught. They use a plastic drop sheet, usually make it one clean shot, in a vacant building where the bodies won’t be readily found.
Yeah, they’re smart. Cold. Calculated. Professional.
This is the first real time I’ve seen emotion from Chris. That I’ve seen proof of his ‘code’ or that he has one. It added a dimension to the character that I hadn’t seen before.
To me, that’s genius. I’d love to be able to develop something far enough that you can see both sides of a person. I swear, every end to a season leaves me with mixed feelings. I was upset at the end of season 1 when D’Angelo went to prison. I was upset season 2 when he was murdered. I cheered season 3 when another popular drug figure was killed. I’m still rooting for Omar.
I remember when I read my first hard-boiled novel – Simon Kernick’s The Business of Dying. I felt so guilty for liking someone who was so wrong. That’s exceptional characterization, in my opinion, because you haven’t made me warm up to someone likeable.
You’ve made me love someone I should loathe. Drug dealers and murderers. Humanizing the bad guys.
Now, I had been thinking about all of that, when I saw a bit of news. An odd bit of news. You’ve probably been wondering what this has to do with Nazi’s, right?
Well, an artist’s depiction of gingerbread Nazis has caused quite a stir, and he was ordered to remove them from the store window he did the display in. The artist said: "I can differentiate between real Nazis and that the atrocities they performed compared to these little gingerbread men, but I guess some people can't," said McGuckin, 50.
You know what? I feel like a complete hypocrite, because I can sit here thinking about brilliant characterization on The Wire, but in my opinion there are no two kinds of Nazis. They’re all evil.
There would have been more to be amused at if the gingerbread men had had horns, pitchforks and tails.
I actually really find the concept of this display offensive. I’m surprised that it stayed up as long as it did.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’m just a hypocrite, and as Patrick has pointed out, it’s better to be a sinner than a hypocrite.
I just find this concept repulsive. There are certain things that just represent evil in this world. Nazis. The Ku Klux Klan. And I hear about a display like this and think more about how it contributes to conditioning young minds. Nazis are suddenly cute. Did anyone read The Boys From Brazil> I did my grade 13 major essay and presentation based off of that book. That book scared the crap out of me.
And this is one case where I would be inclined to think that the artist has some responsibility. Perhaps if this was a painting in a gallery where adults would see it, I could accept the argument that he wants to make people think. But putting it on the window of a store in town where kids will see it? Why not make them stripping gingerbread men with breasts and genitals?
What’s your verdict? Am I a hypocrite? Do you agree or disagree about the display?