(Page 2 of 6)
reason: Does that make them kind of like cultural hoarders?
Simon: In a way. I mean if you’re familiar with their actual culture, the music scene down there is more dynamic pound-for-pound than any I’ve ever seen in the world. I mean there is a punk sea-shanty band. I mean on some level that’s just gorgeous. Only in New Orleans, as they say.
reason: It's a complex text. When I first started watching, I have to say I saw the character played by John Goodman, and I was like: “Wow, this is awful. This is a white-guilt liberal.” And I was kind of happy when he died at the end of the first season.
Simon: You might want to reflect on that.
reason: Believe me, I will. In fact, the show is very layered.
Simon: The reason I think The Wire was intriguing to a lot of people once they found it—and not initially intriguing at all to many people—is they realized it was actually shaped a little bit differently than most television shows. We weren’t interested in straw men. So you could be a conservative and you could come to some conclusions that gratified you. Now I would not agree with those conclusions, but there was at least evidence in there for you to proceed down your path and be moderately content with the storytelling.
You could do that if you were a liberal. You could do that if you were a socialist. You could do that if you were a libertarian. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t have a point of view. But the trick to making anything that matters is not to treat the source material as if you can indulge your own political dialectic by picking and choosing. The world is more complicated than that.
A lot of people who were very opposed to the Iraq war—and I was opposed to the Iraq war as a war of choice—had a hard time with the initial episodes of Generation Kill. The Marines are very profane and hungry to go to war. It’s what they do, it’s what we trained them for, and I don’t blame them in the slightest. But some viewers wanted a dissertation from Ed Burns, David Simon, and Evan Wright about why this war was wrong.
I don’t know how to write for that kind of person. I’m not interested in writing for that kind of person. I’m only interested in writing for the kind of person who first wants to know what it was like and who are these guys.
And when John Goodman’s character says things like "San Francisco is a cesspool with hills." That’s a clue. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But it’s very hard to do TV on that level because most people expect somebody to say something and right afterwards somebody else to say, "That’s not right." To actually correct the record within the scene.
reason: What is it about the HBO model that actually allows for a kind of Balzacian complexity to emerge?
Simon: Did you just call me a ball sack?
reason: I called you a ball sack, yeah.
Simon: I thought so. I knew we were going to get down to this. Damn you, libertarians!