The Average Viewer?

Simon discuses in his interview the “average reader” in his interview, something that I feel related back to discussions we’ve had on the average HBO watcher. He takes the stance that the viewer has not effected TV incarnations of Simon’s work. That he instead is trying to push beyond the boundaries of what is known by the HBO audience, treat them like they know everything and teach them how to view new worlds through their television set. Simon says, “if you write something that is so credible that the insider will stay with you, then the outsider will follow as well.” In this sense it appears as if Simon has found a home among the average for The Wire on HBO.
Later in the article, and in other talks given by or about Simon that we have run across in the class and out it seems to me like this championing of the “average” viewer is preposterous in two ways. The first of these is how to consider a person who watched HBO as an average viewer, when the people who subscribe to HBO are generally middle class America. Is it safe to call these people average when compared to those who watch network television. That fact that HBO costs money means you’ll have a different subset watching than watched Homicide, so the point is diluted. Secondly, Simon in turn seems to hold contempt for the average viewer. He seems to think that they are un-intelligent, trying to lay out stereotypes for us to understand. That in order for the viewer to grasp a concept it must be explained over and over again, past the point of the understanding he was trying to lead them to. The portrayal of the Greeks in the wire is very stereotypical, and despite portraying them for an entire season rarely lets them become anything but stereotypical Mediterranean gangsters. The Sopranos did a much better job of conveying the idiosyncrasies of people belonging to a similar sub-group of American culture without keeping it constantly in the realm of what the viewers will understand. In the end I wish that Simon had been more clear about what he meant by Average and who his target audience is.

Comments are closed.