Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Wire and Greek Mythology (II).

Researching the topic of my last post, I stumbled across this really interesting article in the New Yorker (link) where the creator of The Wire, David Simon, mentions how the show is:

"ripped off [from] the Greeks: Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides. Not funny boy—not Aristophanes. We’ve basically taken the idea of Greek tragedy and applied it to the modern city-state.” He went on, “What we were trying to do was take the notion of Greek tragedy, of fated and doomed people, and instead of these Olympian gods, indifferent, venal, selfish, hurling lightning bolts and hitting people in the ass for no reason—instead of those guys whipping it on Oedipus or Achilles, it’s the postmodern institutions . . . those are the indifferent gods.”

That's a really wonderful observation. It's not strictly linked to what I was saying below, but it's just as interesting. Greek tragedy has an immense resonance, and The Wire does too.

Interestingly, Omar Little seems to be utterly outside this system. He's something like a Robin Hood character, and I wonder if Simon is trying to paint Omar as the only character that can really survive in the modern city-state - he is subservient to no system, yet he is hardly depicted as a "good guy".

The Greek parallels continue as Omar is gay, and in the first season his younger male lover is murdered (a modern parallel of Alexander?) and the central antagonist of the second season is known simply as "The Greek".

The sheer depth to this show is quite amazing. It's difficult to entirely digest. I'll keep posting with further classically related thoughts as I work my way through the seasons, with something more in depth once I'm all finished.


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  2. Perhaps Omar can be contrasted to Achilles from the Iliad? (He follows a strict moral code that he has learnt from his mother - as Achilles learns from Thetis; he was seperated from his father at a young age; he cares immensely for his male companions - alluding to Achilles' love for Patroclus) ... apologies for 'graffiti-ing' your clean blog. It gets me thinking!