Author Archives: bopritza

Authenticity of Generation Kill

I think Generation Kill authentically represents warfare, and has perhaps one of the most authentic representations of warfare in all of film or television. Generation Kill is most comparable to Band of Brothers, a similar mini-series based on World War Two. Band of Brothers, although realistic, ultimately glorified war and the courage of the men who fought in WWII. Generation Kill, as authored by the always pessimistic David Simon, instead chooses to examine the mainly negative aspects of war. Although we’ve seen negative portrayals of war on film before with Vietnam films like Full Metal Jacket and Platoon, we have never seen anything like Generation Kill before on television.

It seems to me that all films and television shows made about American wars by American artists have a negative or positive view of that war based on our success in the war. World War Two films and television programs usually glorify the positive aspects of war, whereas films about unsuccessful wars usually focus on the negative aspects of war.

I think that there has yet to be a war mini-series or movie that accurately captures both the glory and the tragedy of war simultaneously (although Clint Eastwood’s two WW2 films and Saving Private Ryan come close), and I think that Generation Kill could have served to show us some more positive aspects of the Iraq war, although understandably it’s hard to stay positive about a quagmire.

Generation Kill

When I saw Generation Kill before this class, I did not know that it was a Burns/Simon production. On the re-watch, I am beginning to understand how television authorship really does affect a particular show. Generation Kill looks and feels really similar to the Wire. The documentary style returns in Generation Kill, but it is the characters that are most similar to me. Like in the Wire, each character is extremely complex, and there are many of them, although Generation Kill is arguably much easier to follow initially than The Wire. The dialogue feels real, like in the Wire, and it ultimately feels grittier and more realistic than other war mini-series we’ve seen (i.e. Band of Brothers, which tends to glorify war). If The Wire was the answer to the glorification of police work, then Generation Kill is the answer to most war shows on television that glorify battle.

Ultimately Generation Kill fits in perfectly with Simon’s overall work–he’s trying to paint a picture of “the collapse of the American Empire.” In The Wire, he showed our domestic problems, in Generation Kill he’s talking about issues abroad. Both works seem to compliment each other in Simon’s negative worldview. It was interesting to see this continuity in Simon’s authorship from The Wire to Generation Kill.

Beauty and Desire in the Hood

This article has caused just about as much controversy on this blog as I had anticipated (by which I mean a decent amount). Williams article, for me at least, was…interesting. The article starts out promising, as williams accurately claims that “The Wire…[has] success in not only exposing the fatal ideology of racist thinking and profiling but also critiquing and transcending it” (Williams 58). The Wire does a great job of representing innercity life (at least from what I’ve been told in newspaper articles, books, etc.–I’ve never actually lived in the innercity so all assumptions I make about The Wire come from readings rather than personal experience). After this, Williams asserts his desire to explore “the representation of black masculinity and sexuality in the Wire” (Williams 58). This is where the article gets a bit bizarre for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with some of the points Williams makes, such as his claim that “The Wire is propelled by the crude and often sordid vocabularly of homoerotic innuendo and homophobic machismo” (Williams 58). Indeed, the wire has a few homosexual characters and many of the hood characters do have a “destructive, almost primitive fear and paranoia” of homosexuality. However, I have to disagree that the show’s film style sexualizes black characters. The few examples Williams gave (including screenshots) seem to me like normal television camera work from a Simon show. Sure, the jump cuts from Homicide are absent, but when the visual style is very similar between the Corner, Homicide, and The Wire (handheld camera, documentary feel). I did not notice any hypersexualization of black characters like Williams says, but maybe I just was not looking for it.

I also, like eerie, have a problem with turning close male relationships on television shows and movies into pseudo gay relationships. Ever since Tarantino made his famous point about the homoerotic tension in Top Gun, it seems all critics have to bring this up in any text with a close male relationship (Sam and Frodo, etc.). When two women have a close friendship this point is never brought up, I simply don’t understand why it’s different for men. So in that sense, I disagree with Williams entirely.

However, I do agree with catbread that the Wire gives the audiences a broad array of black-male experiences, but like the article says, it may represent all types of black male experiences, but not necessarily with a lot of depth. “We never enter ‘naturally’ into all-black private spaces outside gangsta hours, as we do, for instance, in the case of the white dockers where we are invited almost too easily into the extended family home of the Sobotkas” (Williams 63). Ultimately, the white writing team for the Wire wants to represent all forms of black life (which Williams has interpreted in strange ways); however, they cannot fully pull it off Simon and Burns could not know the full experience, they can only observe it at certain times. As interesting and probably accurate as the Wire is, I still have trouble fully immersing myself in a world that is supposed to be entirely accurate when it was written by people who didn’t live the life. I guess I’m of the belief that you can’t really know how things are unless you live it, which although Simon tried to do, he could not have possibly known entirely what it was like.

Invisible City

In Dana Polan’s article, “Invisible City” she claims that The Wire is one of the first examples in television of a program that has the “representational possibilities that feature films never could come close to achieving.” I agree with Polan’s assessment; The Wire is a massive editorial on American urban society in film form. In no way can a film contain as much substance as The Wire. I think though that television is ultimately being directed in two different directions: the primetime cable television show with complex narratives and the substance free reality tv programs.

It seems as though people who want complex and challenging television are watching more cable networks due to the fact that many of the shows are able to be viewed on the internet. Despite this increase in viewership of shows like The Wire, the most popular shows still reside on network channels: American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, etc. For now it seems like the networks have been saved by these shows, but they are losing their “elite” viewers who are flocking to HBO, Showtime, etc. Now that tv shows are becoming more like films, it feels like the old traditional style tv shows are dying out. 3 Shot sitcoms of the past are now shot documentary style (The Office, Arrested Development), and serious dramas have been taken over by the cable networks and made into long films. It will be interesting to see how different television becomes in this next decade. I don’t see the television format staying the same in this next decade.

Secrets of the City

If Lanahan’s article taught me anything, it’s that David Simon thinks extremely highly of himself and his opinions. I was a bit shocked about how hard he came down on his bosses, although I understand he was venting his frustration (the cancer comment definitely made him look bad). What was most fascinating for me is how Simon uses the Wire to directly confront his main criticism of modern journalism: stories are too “small, self-contained, and has good guys and bad guys” (Lanahan 28). The Wire is clearly the most influenced by Simon of The Corner, Homicide, and the Wire. Homicide and the Corner were focused and self-contained, whereas the Wire tries to tackle the whole issue of crime in the inner city. Simon succeeds in showing all sides, and the viewer is constantly bombarded with reminders of how pointless this war on drugs truly is.

With that being said, I have to disagree with Simon’s claim that the Wire is a show about the collapse of the American Empire. It is true that we have a major problem in our American inner cities, a problem that shouldn’t be so large considering our enormous wealth. However, I do not see the problem of crime in the inner city destroying our country, nor do I share a great fear of the great American collapse (plus England seems to be doing alright). Where I think the Wire does succeed is bringing awareness to the problems of the American inncer city. Maybe all the upper class white HBO subscribers will feel compelled to take action against the injustices done unto our fellow countrymen. Or maybe not. Regardless, the Wire, unlike any other “police procedural” has pushed the boundary so far that people don’t blink when Simon makes the claim that his show is about the end of the American empire.

The DVD Effect

Kompare says his main argument is that “DVD represents a more significant shift in Media than has been acknowledged” (Kompare 343). I’m not sure if that’s true, as he later says in the article that Fox got $100 million dollars from DVD revenues. It has been long acknowledged that DVD has changed the game. People now wait for a series to be over and then rent or buy the DVDs. More people rent DVDs than go to the movies. I think the advent of DVD’s has allowed television authors to make far more complex and creative narratives. Because executives are getting more money from DVD sales, they are green lighting more complex narrative tv programs like LOST, assuming that they will translate into a lot of DVD sales. The Wire is another great example. The series is long over, but people are still hearing about it and buying the DVD. There’s more room for creativity in television, I believe, with the advent of DVDs.


There are a few sources that I have that I didn’t get to put on here because I had trouble finding all the information to cite. Also, I am still looking for more sources but I have listed seven I plan to use here:
Caldwell, John T. “Welcome to the Viral Future of Cinema (Television). Cinema Journal, Vol. 45, No. 1 (Autumn, 2005) pp. 90-97. Texas: University of Texas Press.

Caldwell discusses how television programs are become more film like, and mentions Arrested Development. I can use this article to show that Arrested Development is more like one long film than a traditional television sit com. The article also talks about HBO, and I can explore how Arrested Development was considered “too high brow” for network television.

Hart-Gun, Lesley. “Arrested Development and the Theater of the Absurd.” Velox: Critical Approaches to Contemporary Film, vol. 2., no. 1, pp. 14-20, 2008.

This article talks about how Arrested Development is absurdist in nature. I can use this article to talk about authorship, as Mitch Hurwitz tends to make absurd television programs. Being so absurd, Arrested Development is a lot different than most sit coms. I can talk about how injecting absurdist theater into the generic family sit com created something quite different from the traditional family sit com that most television viewers are used to.

Jones, Gerard. Honey I’m Home!: Sitcoms Selling the American Dream. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

This book shows how many sitcoms of the past were subtle advertisements for traditional American values. I will use this book to explore how Arrested Development disrupts this tradition of the sitcom. In fact, Arrested Development often directly mocks the traditional American family values. This book will be important to show how Arrested Development really changed the sitcom genre entirely.

Mittel, Jason. “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television.” Austin: Universtiy of Texas Press, 2006.

This article talks specifically about how Arrested Development and other new television series are much more narratively complex than past series. This article will be extremely helpful as Mittell references Arrested Development quite a bit. It will help me in my argument about high-brow tv versus low-brow tv.

Savorelli, Antonio. “The New American Televisual Comedy: Semiotic Inquiry into an Evolution.” Milan: Universita IULM Press, 2007.

This article is poorly translated from Italian to English; however, it is similar to Thompson’s article and talks about how Arrested Development has a much more complex narrative than the typical sit com has.

Thompson, Ethan. “Comedy Verite: The Observational Documentary Meets the Televisual Sitcom.” The Velvet Light Trap 60 (2007) 63-72 University of Texas Press.

This article specifically talks about how the traditional sit com has changed from the single set format to a more documentary style. I will use this article to explore authorship in the series, and how Mitch Hurwitz influenced the style that Arrested Development was filmed. The article mainly discusses the Office and Arrested Development, so it is a pretty good source.

Weight, Alan L. “Families are Forever: The Historical Continuity of Domestic Comedies Through Ritual and Resonance. Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2005.

This article mentions Arrested Development, but it actually doesn’t fit as well into my argument as I would hope. I can definitely use a few quotes from this source but it was a misleading source.


I liked the film clockers quite a bit, and although it was different from the book I still enjoyed it. The main departure from the novel was the depiction of the two homicide detectives. In the book, the detectives have backstories- families, personalities, etc. In the film, Harvey Keitel and John Tuturro play the cops as generically as possible. We get more of what Keitel’s character is like; however, the cop characters are not nearly as fleshed out in the movie as they are in the book.

Part of the problem is adapting a 500 plus paged novel into a movie; although I think Lee as the auteur of the film wants to show the story far more from Strike’s side than from the cop’s side.

Spike Lee clearly has a lot of influence on the film. A lot of people were commenting about how his stylized visual style didn’t work for them. I did not have this same problem, but I do take issue with the fact that the viewer does not feel as connected to the cops as the reader does in the novel. I understand Lee wants the viewer to empathize with strike, but I think the movie would be more interesting if we got more out of Tuturro and Keitel’s characters. Despite this problem, I thought the film was both though provoking and entertaining. I just wished there was more from the cops perspective.


So far, it seems as though Price’s Clockers has many similarities to David Simon’s two other books, The Corner and Homicide. Specifically, reading Clockers is quite similar to reading the Corner. The themes and characters are similar in all three books; however, I believe that Price, as a fiction author, has more room to fully develop his characters. Simon, as the journalist recording factual events, is sometimes too prominent in his works. Ultimately, I enjoyed Simon’s works more, mainly because Clockers is so similar to Homicide and the Corner. Because I know that the people Simon is writing about are real, I care more about the characters. For me, Clockers just is a fictionalized version of Homicide and The Corner. Although well written and compelling, the realness of Simon’s work was what really hooked me in his books.

Term Paper Proposal

I think I want to do my term paper on authorship in Arrested Development and how the show challenged the conventions of the network sit-com.  I want to explore the reasons for the show’s cancellation and the implications of its cancellation.  Would the show have fared better on a cable network like HBO?  Is there no more room anymore for smart and complex series on network tv?  How could a show touted as brilliant pick up so few viewers?  What was the reason for the show’s ultimate demise?  Questions of highbrow  versus lowbrow television come to mind when talking about Arrested Development.