I thought one really interesting aspect of Nancy Franklin’s article on “Generation Kill” was how she discussed the presence of Evan Wright’s authorial voice in the magazine articles, the book, and then the series. She writes:
The magazine pieces are punchy; in the book, the tone has been neutralized and the author’s voice is not nearly as present. Fatally, it is entirely missing from the miniseries.
I thought this was particularly interesting because having read the book and watched the miniseries, I would be interested to read the magazine articles, looking for the “punchiness” that Franklin refers to. Personally, I thought Wright’s voice in the book lingered in the narrative appropriately and just modestly enough to not overwhelm the reader with his opinion.
Compared to David Simon’s voice, Wright’s voice is much more tempered, much more objective and passive. Wright abstains from long-winded diatribes against the failures and inadequacies of systems because of past experience, and surprisingly, Simon doesn’t inhabit his typical voice in bringing Wright’s book to the screen. In fact, Wright’s voice erodes significantly from book to miniseries, to a positive effect I think. Much of Wright’s voice appears in the book subtly, often only the exposition of certain facts rather than the interjection of personal opinion. His opinion is precisely what he is choosing to represent about the soldiers in Iraq and that opinion does not particularly favor war, but it cannot bemoan the horrors and tragedies of war given the ways the soldiers completely dedicate their lives to the concept. We are abundantly aware of Wright’s presence in Generation Kill, to an effective degree, but never in a way that becomes overwhelming.
I am interested about Simon’s role in translating Wright’s narrative to the screen. Upon watching the miniseries for the first time when it came out, I was not aware that David Simon had written and produced the series. Watching it a second time around, I have trouble discerning his role. Simon seems markedly less auteur-ial in this series, and even after having read the Beck interview, I’m still puzzled as to whether or not his distancing his voice from the text is intentional or not. There was no point in my re-watching of the series that I became aware of the “systems will fuck you over” mantra that Simon loves inserting into his work–the “rule of the new millenium” as it was described in the Lanahan article. I
Was Simon’s tempered presence on the series a good thing or a bad thing?