Intelligent Criminals

I see the controversial subjects that David Simon discusses in his Letter to HBO in the three episodes of The Wire that we watched for tomorrow. There are strong racial, class, and educational biases at work. Particularly, these biases were apparent when the law enforcement worker cracked the pager code. He went through a complex explanation for how to decode the numbers, yet then added that even the dumb drug dealers could use it because it did not involve math. The detectives are in denial that they are being outsmarted by the drug dealers. The team does not even have a picture of Avon Barksdale after weeks of investigation, yet they still seem to think that he is drastically inferior to them. It seems like a lot of these assumptions come from racial and class biases. If this were a war between two industrialized countries, the strategists would be treating the enemy in a strategic, logical way. Yet because the drug dealers are seen as so inferior, the detectives constantly assume they are stupid and incompetent. But if they were, they would not be winning the war as they are in the show. Showing intelligent criminals is quite ground-breaking. Even in Homicide, the detectives were clearly the intellectual ones. The Wire disrupts our view of crime shows and explores the criminals in a way that had never been done before.

2 responses to “Intelligent Criminals

  1. Not only are the criminals on the Wire shown as intelligent, but we empathize with their plight. This being my first time seeing the Wire, I realize why it has been so critically acclaimed. Simply put, the Wire has combined the best of Clockers, Homicide, and The Corner into one coherent vision that explains the main socioeconomic problem America faces: the inner city. As a television series, I would argue that the Wire is the most realistic depiction of what is happening in our inner cities. It is allowed to be so realistic because it is on HBO; I don’t see the Wire working on any network stations, as depictions of white racism or good intentioned drug deals would no doubt make network execs uncomfortable. The Wire is able to accomplish what it does only because it is on HBO, a channel that fosters creativity instead of hampering it.

  2. I agree with you that the detectives are underestimating that the criminals they are working against, but I don’t know that there is a particular sense of inferiority about Avon Barksdale. I think that they are so used to working on the street level which, if Bodie isn’t example enough, they are anticipating the impatience and brutishness of the low-level dealer. I believe genuinely that the detectives are intimidated by Avon’s ability to be far below the radar, and later on in the season it becomes evident that the detectives are very aware of the tact they must employ in order to properly nail this guy.