A Character

11 Nov

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The thing that strikes me about The Wire and The Corner when watching them so soon after each other is how different they are. This might seem like an obvious statement, but I might be speaking in a way that you don’t think of right away. The big difference for me is the characters. The characters on The Wire are just that: characters. They might have basis in the life of a real person, but they have a made up life. On The Corner, these are real people that David Simon and Edward Burns talked to and wrote about. As we have seen, you can google them and find out what they are doing now, almost 20 years after the book is set. This fact changes how I view the show and the characters. They are more tragic to me. They seem more prey to fate at this point. No amount of letters to the show runners or network can change their fate. This is who they are. For me, this fact was more emotionally gripping. I cared more intensely about these characters and mourned them acutely. To go from that kind of program to The Wire caused me to chafe a little bit when introduced to the new characters. I didn’t care for most of them and questioned their motives constantly. West Baltimore was a place I had come to understand through the lens of The Corner and The Wire wasn’t going to revolutionize that world for me. At the same time, I recognize it as great television. I enjoyed watching it, in spite of barely tolerating most of the characters on the show. It didn’t affect me like The Corner did and I believe that is entirely a result of how I viewed the characters in each program.

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4 Responses to “A Character”

  1. hleskosky November 13, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I actually think the acting of the main characters on The Wire is better than that of The Corner. When watching the corner, I was acutely aware of the fact that they were actors–especially in the cases of Gary and to a lesser extent, Fran. On The Wire, however, I think the acting is a lot better…I would say it was because the actors are just better–but there is a lot of crossover between the two, so maybe it’s in the writing? Or the fact that those on The Corner were portraying real people and were wary of that when acting as them? I don’t know. Also, it’s not entirely true that the characters on the The Wire are all completely fictional–some are based on real life people, especially when you get into the later seasons with government officials. Simon and Burns even would sometimes even have real political figures on the show (not being themselves, but still). Along these lines, a lot of the minor characters (especially those in the “drug” world) are actually real people pulled from the streets of Baltimore. I think this makes their acting and characters feel even more real than anyone on The Corner, because they’re not trying to method act and think of what it’s like out there–they know, so it feels more genuine to watch. When thinking about the two, I always feel more attached to the characters on The Wire because they feel less like characters than those in The Corner. This may just be me, but even if the characters are based on real people, if the actors don’t convince me (like with believable acting, for example), I just can’t get as involved with them. To me, I care about Bodie and Bubbles and they are far more real than to me than say, De’Andre or Fat Curt.

    • Allison Elizabeth November 13, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      I guess I should refine what I mean when I say that I care about the character. In the moment of viewing, I probably ccare about Bubbles just as much as I care about Gary. The difference is, I keep thinking about characters from the Corner after I stop watching. I am almost preoccupied with them. And for me, there is something really emotionally striking about the fact that they are real people not renamed characters. I don’t think that all the characters on the Wire are made up out of thin air, but for me they affect me less because it is not one person’s actual story being played out, but rather a dramatization that feeds an overarching narrative. The Wire is great television with great acting, don’t think I am trying to say otherwise; it is just less emotionally stirring for me than the Corner.

  2. evanharold November 14, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Are the post-Corner lives of The Corner characters relevant to The Wire outside of individual curiosity? The Wire’s characters, inspired they are by actual people, work better on the show, both on their own and together, because they stand more textually independent. Part of what calls attention to the acting of The Corner actors is the fact that we all recognize the story, the characters, the exact words. I’m not sure how it would have worked in reverse (watching The Corner before reading it), but the show’s handling of the book’s exposition is so overbearing that it was nearly impossible for me to suspend the belief that I’m watching a production.

  3. Allison Elizabeth November 15, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    I am pretty sure I take back everything I said after bawling like a baby when Wallace died.

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