On the Lost Boys

In “The Lost Boys of the Baltimore: Beauty and Desire in the Hood”, James S. Williams explicates the aesthetic rhetoric of The Wire. Within the text black male bodies are exposited in homoerotic spaces in the context of televisual voyeurism. The project and urban locales in which the black male bodies are deposited in are operationalized as panoptic surveillance centers for black male activity. Even within the bureaucratic space of the police institution homoerotic discourse is always present and dually deployed for derision and comradery.

As Williams cites varied accounts of black male representation within The Wire display the body in aesthetic relations to the camera. The black male bodies are not merely deployed to continue the narrative but to equivocate a scopophilic pleasure in looking in at an urban locale through the lens of an oppositional text. Although somewhat paradoxical, although The Wire propagates and reaffirms the historical hyper-eroticism of the black male body, this discourse concomitantly functions with The Wire’s subversion of institutional practices that subjugate the blackness and holistically constituent citizenry. Williams incisively asserts the representation of the black body and its consequential eroticism occurs in coalescence with camera mechanics. As Williams cites, the centrifugal movement of the camera, despite moments of inertia, depicts the black male body in constant motion. Camera tracking, panning, zooming, and composite shots effectively intrude in the space of The Wire’s black male televisual referents. Characters such as Marlo, Michael, Bubbles, and Dookie are televisual referents for spectator insertion within a privatize locale. Thus the private is always eroticized and rendered public space for the spectator and other characters that enter hood space. As Williams delineates, the black male cameras are never exposited in their own private space, or habitual activities outside their criminal occupation. Their criminality is rendered ubiquitous, and although complex within the workings of the corner, The Wire does not exhibit character complexities outside criminal activity.

Although alluded to, Williams fails to cite the incrimination of the viewer in gazing at the black male body and a space not familiarized within televisual discourse. In the article Williams uses “we” to infer the viewing practices of the collective. Although we all participate in the practice of looking, race, gender, age, and class dispositions alter the practices. Isolation and inclusion within the text is interdependent with spectator disposition. Although The Wire can never be entered, it does elicit varied responses because of its intertextuality. Williams most insightfully argues The Wire is constructed by a team of predominantly white authors, which alters the text and demonstrates the aesthetic collusiveness with the historicized eroticism of the black male body and the homoerotic subtext. Within the construction of the text, while women are present they are consigned to residual space within The Wire’s sexual discourse. Griggs, the representational referent is represented as an occupationally motivated woman with a predilection for different partners. When her body is viewed in a sexual context it is bereft of camera intimacy. Conversely the shows occupation with the black male body is reasserted 

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