I say the first time I watched The Wire , it reminded me of Shakespeare. Simon is not in the least cowed by the grandiose comparison, but corrects it.
"We stole from the earlier dramatic tradition of the Greeks. Shakespeare began the process by which thinking men and women exerted some degree of control over their actions, markedly changing their ends. Hamlet and Macbeth are concerned with the interior psychological construction of their characters. They are more Tony Soprano than The Wire .
" The Wire transposed the idea of Greek tragedy by using institutions in place of the Olympian gods. And those institutions are our political and economic constructs.
"Now some people don't want to watch that, to be told that the game is rigged. It is disturbing news. But those that do watch it will respond to the profound pessimism of the show. The people who watched Antigone or Medea were comfortable with that degree of pessimism. That was the ancient view of the world. And I'm not so sure it is so wrong in the 21st century." Simon found himself immersed in the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides as the series' first season unwound. "We stole big," he confesses. "If you steal, steal big."
Monday, June 16, 2008
In The Financial Times (7th June), Peter Aspden has lunch with David Simon, the creator of The Wire.