Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Four More

with 3 comments

So the claim is that the top-notch sociology students of America are unfamiliar with (and probably not of) the urban poor and they will learn empathy and be introduced to poor people through a made-up TV program. That seems a little broken.

* Some modest proposals for Arizona lawmakers.

* At least Bank of America got its name right. The ultimate Too Big to Fail bank really is America, a hypergluttonous ward of the state whose limitless fraud and criminal conspiracies we’ll all be paying for until the end of time. Did you hear about the plot to rig global interest rates? The $137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities? The ingenious plan to suck multiple fees out of the unemployment checks of jobless workers? Take your eyes off them for 10 seconds and guaranteed, they’ll be into some shit again: This bank is like the world’s worst-behaved teenager, taking your car and running over kittens and fire hydrants on the way to Vegas for the weekend, maxing out your credit cards in the three days you spend at your aunt’s funeral. They’re out of control, yet they’ll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard.

* And a brief history of female away team members: Redskirts.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

3 Responses

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  1. The complaint about teaching The Wire in a sociology class is bizarre to me, as is the lens that it’s “just about getting students to care.” What’s wrong with interpreting an artistic work using the tools of sociology as a way to better understand those tools? Presumably some attention will be paid to where the show intersects with actual debates and discussions in the field.

    Are people concerned that The Wire is substituting for documentary evidence? That would be bad, but there’s more than one way to skin a text.

    I realize this would be better posed in the Awl comments section, but they scare me, and I’d be curious to know why that article appealed to you as an academic.

    Josh K-sky

    March 15, 2012 at 11:56 am

  2. Are people concerned that The Wire is substituting for documentary evidence?

    This is indeed my concern. I am certain that there are good ways to teach the show and bad ways to teach it, but a number of the articles surrounding the use of The Wire in the classroom has insisted on the film’s “realism” in a way that I just don’t think holds up to scrutiny. First, because the show clearly isn’t “realistic” — Omar, just for starters, is a superhero — and second because as any English professor can tell you “realism” itself is a quite different thing from “realisticness,” frequently containing heaping doses of sentimentality, pathos, and melodrama.

    The Wire has a relationship with “documentary” and “evidence” but it’s a very fraught one that has to be handled very carefully. Some of these syllabi have students literally watching the entire run of the show during class time; at my university, that sixty hours would be the bulk of the entire semester. I don’t see how a professor could develop anything but a very naive relationship with The Wire under those circumstances.


    March 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

  3. OK. Thanks. That’s useful context.

    Josh K-sky

    March 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

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