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Readings For Monday and Generation Kill

The readings for today was partially focused on the authenticity of Generation Kill. More specifically, they talk about whether or not Generation Kill is a good representation of modern warfare and the Iraq war. The show is seemingly very authentic because it offers a wide variety of details, both positive and negative. It shows the intra-squad drama as well is drama specific to battle. In the interview, David Simon spoke about how he wanted to accurately portray the military hierarchy. The conflict and tension through the ranks of Marines definitely seems to be a very realistic. The boredom of the soldiers is also in line with what I would expect.

That being said, it is difficult to say that David Simon’s portrayal of modern warfare is entirely accurate. Unlike his other shows, like The Wire and Homicide, David Simon was not the original researcher of the material for the show. Rather, it was based off of a book by Evan Wright. Due to his removal from the situation, it would be reasonable to assume that some or many of the details have changed. When writing a book, an author writes from their perspective. The details that they convey have invariable been warped by their own perspective. This is only human nature as new details are appropriated in order to be viewed on the plane of what an individual knows. As a result, Generation Kill, the book, is Wright’s representation of the war and not necessarily the bare facts. David Simon is yet another step removed, as he is making a show based off of Wright’s representation of the war. In other words, Generation Kill the miniseries is David Simon’s representation of Wright’s representation of the war. This being the case, I have to question the accuracy of the miniseries.

Simon stated in the interview that he tried as hard as he could to adhere to the book. From my reading and viewing, I can attest to this, although there are a few differences. It would be interesting to ask Wright if Simon’s portrayal is in line with his vision. For another step of accuracy, it would be interesting to ask a Marine what he thinks of Generation Kill‘s portrayal of the war. Having never been a Marine it is difficult for me to speculate, but I have my doubts.

Generation Kill

The differences between Generation Kill and THe Wire are fairly obvious as the content is almost entirely different. Because of this, I find the similarities much more interesting. The most obvious similarity is the overarching theme of bothe shows, that an institution always harms those that belong to it. Much like the drug gangs and the cops in The Wire, there is a hierarchal system in place for the Marines in Generation Kill. As a result, their individual autonomy is limited and they are forced to do what their higher-ups order them to do. This leads to them being put into situations that are less than desirable. Often times, they are forced into situations that they would much rather avoid. A good example of this is how whenever the Marines seem to want a battle, they are ordered to hold-fire, and combat seems to always come at the least opportune times.

Another similarity that I noticed was that the attitudes of the Marines are very similar to those of the police in The Wire. In order to stay motivated to fight the Iraqis, the Marines dehumanize them to a degree where they convince themselves that they hate the “Hajis.” This is similar to how the police convinced themselves that the drug dealers are a sub-human species that they need to battle. The degree to which the Marines dehumanize the Iraqis is apparent because of the joy that they show upon killing them. Another good example is when they remark in episode 2 that a group of local females are “actually hotties.” This reveals their attitude because they were surprised that they were attracted to the “Hajis,” showing that they never believed that they could have common ground with the locals.

This strategy of dehumanizing the Iraqis may be a coping strategy. War is obviously very stressful, and it is well beyond human nature to kill another human. By viewing the enemies as sub-human, they do not have to deal with the guilt that comes from harming fellow man.

One other theme that I noticed that I wanted to discuss is how the lack of female contact runs the Marines thought processes. Whenever they are not directly engaged in battle it seems that every other remark is about girls. Obviously, it would be nearly torturous to never see the opposite sex. However, discussing women seems to take precident over eating and sleeping. I wonder if this is a realistic representation.

Perception of The Wire

The readings for class on Monday are discussions of David Simon as an author with relation to The Wire. We get four different representations of him based on the four different readings, including his own representation of himself. Although, each article highlighted a slightly different version of him. The interview seemed to be what he saw himself to be as an author ideally. In some ways, this is the least important perspective because although only he knows what he means to convey, he does not know how the content of his narratives will be received. In a way, the perspective of someone observing Simon’s works is more valid. Simon may have intended The Wire to be received one way, when in reality it is received in another. This is why the article was so interesting to me.

In it, they talk about how The Wire lacks realistic positivity, and that the darkness is overwhelming. This is a concept that we discussed in class. The darkness of the show has the ability to make viewers uneasy, and at times it is over the top. Usually though, I think that the darkness is an element to Simon’s overall argument about how institutions damage those who it is meant for. This could potentially be an interesting topic of discussion. Is the negativity in the show too much, or does it operate within the argument of The Wire?

I am of the belief that although there are instances where the content of the show is unnecessarily dark, it usually serves the purpose of exposing the evils of certain institutions. I would even go so far as to argue that the overall message of The Wire is positive. I think that most characters maintain a bright outlook, or have some scrap of happiness to hold onto. This is despite the sometimes appalling negativity. This serves the purpose of imprinting an overall feeling of hope. That’s part of the reason why I think the show is so captivating. We want to see the characters hope come true.

Readings For Class Monday

The articles for class today both deal with the topic of the representation of race in The Wire. The articles offer two different perspectives regarding the topic that do not necessarily relate to one another. Williams argues that the representation of black males is highly sexualized and laced with homosexual undertones. George argues that The Wire’s portrayal of the black experience is very accurate, which is impressive considering that David Simon could have never had this experience. However, I’m not sure that the arguments line up with one another.

While it is impossible to ignore the homosexual themes in The Wire, I do not think that George would agree with Williams that this is the general representation of black males. Williams argues that black males are used to titillate, and become objects of homoerotic lust. If George shared this view, I don’t think that he would have complimented David Simon for an accurate portrayal of the black experience, unless of course he constantly feels as though he is the object of male sexual fantasy.

That being said, it would be interesting to see who the class agrees with more, George, Williams, or none of the above. I have often heard the argument that The Wire is nothing more than a voyeuristic journey into a very unfortunate situation. In effect, The Wire is exploiting a tragic situation. I do not share this view. The development of the characters is too deep to believe that The Wire is the glorification of drugs and violence. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily agree that it is an accurate representation of being black.

I do think that The Wire does a good job of representing the plight of the everyman. Even though the situations are unique to drug runners and police, the emotions are very relatable. Everyone knows what it’s like to be under fire from their boss, everyone knows what it’s like to be apathetic at work, and everyone knows how it feels to fail. Even though viewers may have never sold drugs, they can still relate to characters.

Commentary in The Wire

The more that I began watching The Wire, the more confused I became. I was overwhelmed by the amount of characters and side notes. That is until I started thinking about why the storyline might be so complex from an authorship point of view. This brought me back to a quote from David Simon that we discussed a few classes ago. Essentially, the point was that no matter who you are, the institution that you belong to or support will do you wrong eventually. This can be seen in The Wire from many different institutions. In fact, I will argue that is the reason why Simon includes so many characters. By doing this, he effectively shows how characters involved in different institutions are being wronged. He shows the struggles that the cops have and the internal pressures from the department. He shows how a dealer is stuck, with no way out and the stress that this causes. He also shows how addicts are caught in a vicious cycle. Suffering is a common theme among all of the characters in The Wire. This could be seen as an argument by Simon to seperate your life from your career. Dealers are always worrying about the next time that they re-up. The cops are constantly worrying about cases and the fiends are always trying to score drugs. The suffering that they go through is because their institution is the only thing that they have in their life. The Wire can be viewed as a warning to not let one thing take over your life.


One point that Kompare brings up that was particularly interesting to me was that traditionally, television stations are really selling viewers to advertisers. Since the rise of the DVD box set though, they are now using the shows as products to sell to the audience, at least partially. This would arguably lead to better programming. In the traditional sense, television stations would want to produce shows that attract a large audience so that they can sell that viewership to advertisers. This would lead to a “by any meanse necessary” approach. In other words, it doesn’t matter what kind of product they make as long as it attracts viewers. This is where all of the stereotypical television themes come from (ie the overdramatic cop drama, the predictable sitcom, etc.) However, since the show itself is now a product that the television stations can share by the means of DVD box sets, they need to make a quality product, much in the same way that a beverage maker would want to make the best tasting drink. Television stations would be forced try to make the funniest comedy, or the most thrilling drama.

That being said, I’m not sure how much this phenomenon operates. If DVD box sales were the only source of income, then it would clearly drive the quality of shows up quicker. However, television stations still make a great deal of income from commercials, and are thus still selling their audience. It is unclear whether this will ever stop, but currently some of the traditional television themes perseist. It would be interesting to see what percentage of income comes from what field.

It is also important to note that the internet changes the nature of selling a TV show immeasurably. It is possible to see almost any show online whenever it is convenient for the viewer. DVD’s used to have an advantage because of they can be played whenever as opposed to tuning in at a specific show for a televised program. It may be safe to say that the internet has stolen the convenient option title from the DVD. As a result, the main draw of purchasing a DVD box set would be for the sake of collection.

Annotated Bibliography

Bruna, Katherine Richardson. “Addicted to democracy: South Park and the salutary effects of

agitation (reflections of a ranting and raving South Park junkie).” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 47.8 (May 2004): p692.



            For my paper , I wanted to talk about the way that the writers of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, make deep, serious points. This article does a good job of breaking down the points that they make in a few episodes. Bruna does a good job of laying out Parker and Stone’s arguments and how they apply to the outside world. I don’t know that I will end up using this source, but if nothing else, it serves as a good example of how to deconstruct South Park episodes.



Ash, Gwynne Ellen. “Not ‘What Little Kids Can Be like’: Cultural Appropriation and Adults       Watching ‘South Park’.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 43, No. 8 (May,        2000), pp. 747-748.

            Part of the theme of my paper is how Parker and Stone are inseparable from the points that they make on their show. This article discusses how the children in the show are really representations of the adult world. It even points to the characters as extensions of Parker and Stone. It also does a good job of analyzing the impact of the controversial, crude humor of South Park. This article will be useful in my paper to further my point about how /south Park is a medium for Parker and Stone to point out flaws of the world that we live in.


Heffernan, Virginia. “What? Morals in ‘South Park’?.” The New York Times. April 28, 2004.

            One of the ways that I wanted to expose Parker and Stone’s masterful authorship was through the character, Eric Cartman. The use Cartman to make many of their points, often times using him as a counter example. South Park is a very good satire of American culture and Cartman is often a representation of its flaws. This article talks about Cartman and his home life, hypothesizing about where is evil character comes from. It also talks about the effect that Cartman has on the general message of the show. This will work well with my argument.


Rovner, Julie. “Eric Cartman: America’s Favorite Little $@#&*%.”  April 5,          2008.


            This article also offers an in depth analysis of Cartman, but this one tracks his development over the course of the show more. It also talks about how his mother spoiling him is a source of Cartman’s evil. This article could be important in my discussion of Cartman. This article even hints at what I want to discuss, the way that Parker and Stone utilize Cartman in the name of satire.


Poniewozik, James, “10 Questions for Matt Stone and Trey Parker.” Time, 167, iss. 118. March    13, 2006.

            I thought that this article might be useful in talking about Parker and Stone as auteurs, and in ways it is. In it, Parker and Stone acknowledge the cultural impact that they have. They also talk about some of the motivation for their show, and how having a mindset like a kid is helpful. It also gives a glimpse of how dedicated they are to their job. However, I wish that the article would have been a little more in depth. The most potentially useful part is their discussion of their motives for the content of their show.

Weinman, J. J. “South Park Grows Up.” Maclean’s v. 121 no. 11 (March 24 2008) p. 52-4.

            This article talks about the way that the characters and the content of South Park have evolved with their creators. In other words, it shows how as Parker and Stone grew as producers, the show also grew. This will serve as a useful source in my analysis of how the show is an extension of its creators.

Podlas, K. “Respect My Authority! South Park’s Expression of Legal Ideology and Contribution             to Legal Culture.” Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law. v. 11, 3.

 Spring 2009.

            This article is a serious discussion of the implications of the content of South Park. It talks about the cultural impact, and some of the causes that it undertakes. This will be a useful article because it breaks down many of the arguments that South Park makes and tries to identify its ideology.

Clockers: Reading and Watching

After reading Clockers, I had a fairly good idea of how I was expecting the movie would be. I knew that I would probably have to dismiss the Spike Lee flare to look for similarities, but the movie was actually very similar to the novel. However, since the mediums are so different, there were bound to be differences. The overall feeling of the movie was very similar to the novel. In both, the overriding theme seemed to be a focus on the circumstances that lead to the characters being how they are. In other words, both emphasized mentality of burning through money and getting money by any means necessary. One major difference though, was in character development.

One character that seemed to be the most different was Strike. Strike did not have a stutter in the movie, and he was also not as diminutive as the book described. Aside from the obvious, physical differences, the fact that we could not get inside Strike’s head in the movie (like in the book) gave an entirely different impression of him. In the book, his maturity and understanding of the world were apparent by his thoughts. However, in the movie, we obviously can’t see his thoughts, so his mental maturity is not as obvious. Also, his dialogue was kept very short and simple in the movie, giving the impression that he was not as smart as the book portrayed him. Along the same lines, Strike does not have a girlfriend in the movie. As we mentioned in class today, his relationship with Chrystal also furthered the idea of his maturity. In the book, there is an obvious difference between strike outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, he seemed weak and small because of his stutter and inwardly he had a quiet understanding. In the movie, there was not the same dichotomy. The only outward show of weakness by strike was his stomach problem.

Another character that was developed differently was Rocco. In the book his flaws and motivation were much clearer. This is partially because a book can offer any perspective it wants, whereas a movie must be from the perspective of a quiet observer. In the movie, he seemed to be a hero, the only hard-working, caring cop that we met who eventually prevailed. In the book we see a man plagued by confidence issues, and a less than stellar home life. I would have liked to have seen the movie develop this a little more.

Clockers Stuff

Although Clockers has similar subject matter to both Homicide and The Corner, it is unique because it is entirely a work of fiction. This offers a different perspective that a work of non-fiction could not. For one, we can see a characters thoughts. This is particularly interesting in the case of Strike. Hearing Strike’s thoughts gives us an understanding of him that no one else can have. Inside, he has a strong understanding of the world and the motivation behind the drug trade. Outwardly, he seems weak and timid because of his stutter. He is comparable to DeAndre McCullough from The Corner in the way that they both act older than their age. The both also have a strong understanding of the drug trade. However, since The Corner is non-fiction, we have to learn this through what he does and says. We have no idea what he really thinks or understands, only what he chooses to show. It makes it so that we can become more familiar with the fictional characters than the real people.

Another advantage that Simon has working with fiction is that he can include and develop many more characters. There are obvious time and proximity limits to getting to know a wide variety of people in different walks of life. As a result, there can’t be as many real characters. This is apparent in The Corner because we only see what happens in the corner. We never see how the drugs make it to the corner. In Clockers we are able to not only see the drug traders as characters, but also police officers, where the drugs come from, etc.

Although there are creative freedoms to writing fiction, the reality of non-fiction is captivating beyond the point of fiction. I care much more about the real characters from Homicide and The Corner than the fictional characters from Clockers. In the case of the real characters, every action seems more consequential because I’m constantly reminded that the characters are real people. Fictional characters are easier to dismiss because they only exist in the world of their story.

Term Paper Proposal

For my term paper I want to look at the authorship of the cartoon South Park. South Park is remarkable because it manages to make solid, political points while also being hilarious (in my humble opinion). Part of the way that they are able to do this is through their character, Eric Cartman. Cartman is often used as an eccentric opposition to a reasonable point that the writers are trying to make. I want to analyze the way that they use Cartman as almost negative propoganda against something they oppose. I think that the writers of South Park are Auteur-esque in their control of their characters, and I think that this would make for a good focus of a term paper.