Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jeffrey Goldberg Is Too Smart For The Wire - Week 6

Did Templeton really set out on a reporting trip to the underpasses of Baltimore wearing a Kansas City Star T-shirt? Or am I missing something? No, I just looked again: He's wearing a Kansas City Star T-shirt, all right. Is this because his "I'm a Douchebag" T-shirt was in the laundry?

Yeah, the KC Star totally sucks! Templeton must be a real first class, A1 dildo. It's not even possible that the Star was Templeton's first job and he doesn't care about this shirt much and he intentionally wore an old t-shirt because he'd be spending the night under a bridge with homeless people. Why isn't he wearing an Atlantic t-shirt? Jeffrey Goldberg has never known a single person who worked at the Star!

To answer your question, no, of course the alleged Marine's story would never pass muster in a day...I'm not sure it would take three weeks to confirm the basics of the story, but it certainly would take a week or so just to confirm his true identity.

It's too bad Goldberg did his English Lit thesis on Shakespeare and not poetic license. Can you imagine the tense thrill of watching Templeton spend two weeks tracking down sources inside the Army?! Wow! Now that would be some gripping television! Look! He's on the phone again!

Besides, no capable city editor would allow this story even to come to the attention of his managing editor without doing some basic verification first, especially if the reporter who reeled in the story was so obviously mistrusted by his own desk.

Yes, Gus is completely incapable...of getting his bosses to listen to him. This is at least the fourth time this season he's been overruled.

P.S. I've got nothing for you on the Pogues. I'm comprehensively uninterested now in McNulty.

At this point, Goldberg is strictly watching the show because he's being paid to do so. How thrilling for us to receive his insights!

I'm particularly unhappy with Lester's transformation. He and Bunk were the moral centers of the cop-shop, and I need Lester to be Lester, not McNulty's partner in stupidity. It's strange to flip the script on us so late in the story, and it's not working.

At least once a season, every season, we've been reminded that all Lester cares about is making the case. Whatever is required to do so and whatever trouble he may create for higher ups is of no interest to him. He only cares about the case. In explaining his illegal tap to Sidnor earlier, he said he considered the shuttering of the Stansfield case to be an illegitmate decision. He cares only about closing this case, obviously at any cost. Most people would be excited by Lester's move, aware that a great cop and a great person is flirting with jail in his relentless pursuit of justice. Not Jeffrey Goldberg, though.

Chris dies. That's my prediction.

Seriously? A kingpin's muscle? A guy who keeps finding himself in gun battles and a man who is being hunted by Omar? You predict he dies? How do you keep this high wire act going Goldberg? You're such a maniac!

Marlo has to live, because capitalism can't be put down, but Chris can be shed. Snoop, however, is too smart to die.

Let's just note these for the record, shall we?

As for Omar, I think it's quite possible Omar dies...

The whole inner city is hunting him to collect a bounty, he has a broken leg and he's hunting the most powerful criminal in Baltimore. You think it's quite possible he dies?

Because I can't help myself, let me point out one moment in which this episode was too clever by half. It came during the trial, when Clay Davis referred disparagingly to the prosecutor, Rupert Bond, as "Obonda." Maybe when the episode was filmed this seemed like a clever joke, but now, with everything we know about Obama's overwhelming popularity among African-Americans (and coming just several days after the Maryland primary), it fell awfully flat.

Is it all possible that this disparaging quip has been misinterpreted by Goldberg? Yes, of course it's possible. I'm sorry. How about this? The point is that Clay Davis is slapping down Bond for trying to be the next great black politician. That he thinks Bond is too ambitious. That he thinks Bond is trying to make a name for himself without anything tangible behind him. How about that?

Speaking of egregiousness, how can you possibly believe that the Hamsterdam premise was as preposterous as the story line you call, quite succinctly, "Bitey the Bloodthirsty"? The first had to do with an experiment in de facto drug legalization in a small corner of the city by a thoughtful and frustrated police official. The second has formerly competent police detectives concocting from scratch the story of a serial murderer who bites homeless men on the ass, or the thighs, or wherever.

Goldberg has apparently forgotten that McNulty couldn't get Alma and Templeton interested in the fake serial killer at first, so in desperation he invented the biting thing. It has since spun out of control. Also, note the adjectives here. Goldberg liked Hamsterdam, so Colvin was "thoughtful" and "frustrated". He hates the serial killer, so McNulty is "formerly competent".

I'm quite sure that, in real life, at various times in various places, thoughtful and frustrated police officials have conducted experiments along the lines of Bunny Colvin's; I have never heard of a story in which police detectives defile corpses and kidnap a homeless man, all in order to extract computer equipment from their superiors.

This paragraph is the ne plus ultra of Goldberg's idiocy. He should actually be commended for being able to demonstrate how far up his ass his head is with only two sentences. It takes some people a lifetime to achieve that. He has never heard of any police officials anywhere setting up an unofficial drug bazaar to localize crime. Equally, he has never heard of a cop defiling homeless corpses to make it seem like a serial killer is on the loose so he can get some budget money. Despite never having heard of either of these scenarios, he likes Hamsterdam, so he is quite sure that it has happened. He dislikes McNulty's fake serial killer, so he's quite sure that it has never happened. David Simon, stop making things up for your drama! If you can find even a milligram of logic in that paragraph, I will buy you lunch until the day you die.

I hope Jeffrey Goldberg is donating his pay for this series to a journalism school. If he's actually profiting off of this lunacy, there truly is no hope for America.


Anonymous said...

amazing. thank you thank you thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I read that Slate commentary for the first two weeks and then had to give up. Goldberg was so awful, just completely missing the point, and Plotz, though he started out OK, descended to Goldberg's level pretty fast.

The Salon commentary was OK for a bit longer, but I eventually had to give up on that one too, as everyone involved except their TV critic completely failed to get it.

Now I just read the NYTimes "What do Real Thugs Think of The Wire?" blog entries. The thugs have some pretty off-the-wall thoughts, but at least they don't take personal offense at the storylines that take place in their world.

Rhayader said...

Ha! Good stuff, thanks for speaking for everybody involved with the TV Club beyond Plotz and Goldberg.

It is frustrating enough to see the arbitrary and whimsical process that Goldberg uses to decide if something is "realistic" or not. However, what really vexes me is that both Goldberg and Plotz seem to think that plausibility is the only metric by which to judge the show. The Wire is not a documentary; there are larger, more symbolic things going on. Not only do we have to allow for dramatic license, but we should analyze and appreciate the complex literary devices and metaphors Simon presents. If the show can really be compared to Greek mythology (as Mr. Simon has said), is having every single scene accurately reflect real life the true priority?

Plotz and Goldberg have taken one of the aspects of the show that makes it so entertaining (its verisimilitude) and turned it into the end-all, be-all aspect. In actuality, this "real world" that the show creates is just a backdrop, a canvas on which to make the real art.

Thanks again. -- Rhayader

Steve Lieber said...

It's good to see commenters who can distinguish between realism and verisimilitude.

Rhayader said...

steve lieber It's good to see commenters who can distinguish between realism and verisimilitude.

Too bad our esteemed bloggers don't seem to be able to do so. I would think that Plotz and Goldberg may have encountered some literary education in their travels. If one takes their blog posts as evidence, it appears that they in fact did not.

Jason said...

Guys, if you're looking for GOOD blogging on the Wire, check out the Onion AV Club's TV Club, or Alan Sepinwall's blog, What's Alan Watching? Both are great, and show how embarassing Slate and Salon's crap columns are.

Anonymous said...

I just had the pleasure to read your comments, with which I wholeheartedly agree, followed by Goldberg's post on the latest episode. You won't be surprised to learn that he liked last night's episode (though he takes his gratuitous shots at the newsroom scenes) because "it rang true." He closes, again not surprisingly, with an ill-informed prediction--that Partlow might kill Marlo because Marlo had let Omar call him out on the streets. Nevermind that the conversation between Michael, Partlow, and Snoop clearly indicates that Partlow and Snoop kept that information from Marlo. It's amazing to me that this guy gets so touchy about negative portrayals of the press, when his comments show the press as biased, snide, and less observant than the average viewer.

Anonymous said...

YOU MUST CONTINUE!!! The stupid at Slate.... IT BURNS!!!!!

Seriously... this is outstanding stuff and needs an update. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease :)

Not that the stupidity, arrogance, and self-satisfaction of the denizens of the world of journalism is that hard to unmask, but their take on the Wire, and the thin skin shown in response (We are so much more complicated than he portrays...) speaks volumes.

Your concision, though, multiplies the fun,