Systemic or Individual

In “All in the Game: The Wire, Serial Storytelling and Procedural Logic”, Professor Jason Mittell negates the authorial espousal of David Simon and televisual scholars who promulgate The Wire as a televisual novel. Mittell cites the hierarchization of the televisual and literary mediums, which renders the novel as the pantheon of cultural diegesis. At one historical moment the novel was deemed cultural fodder however since the introduction of television it has signified cultural elitism. During its initial television run The Wire had a low spectator rate, however within social and internet collectives it is highly acclaimed. The talk of The Wire outside its immediate audience demonstrates how the text transverses television parameters and moves beyond spectatorial parameters. Within the article Mittell delineates terming The Wire a televisual novel attempts to legitimize the work with outside its medium. As The Wire is named a televisual novel, it implies television as a medium does not suffice as a site for the exposition of The Wire’s systemic analysis.

Mittell goes on to explicate The Wire functions similarly to a video game, citing the characters instances of configuring drug trafficking and their participation as a game. Mittell goes on to articulate the participatory involvement of the spectator, who does not generate or actively move the narrative forward, however by oratory rearticulation the viewer/fan generates The Wire narrative outside televisual demarcations. After explicating how The Wire functions as a game, codified and simulative of practices in reality, Mittell subsequently asserts The Wire must be situated within the medium it is presented.

The Wire absences hyper-sensational camera techniques, editing mechanics, and visual and dialogic flashbacks to centralize the contemporary moment within the show. The Wire augments procedural precedents by taking in depth analysis at various institutional stems, citing their interconnections and collective performances. However, as Mittell explains the function of The Wire in televisual space as a mean or reifying and asserting why televisual space licenses The Wire’s efficacy, Mittell reproduces the work he accuses Simon and other scholars of. He situates video games as the explanatory reference for the elucidation of The Wire’s form. By positing The Wire as a televisual video game Mittell reasserts television’s illegitimacy, absenting the interactive and novel mediums are referents that inform rather than assert The Wire’s construction.

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