While I wait for the last season of The Wire to make it to dvd, I’ve been watching The Shield. Yesterday I told Chuck that I can’t figure out if it’s a reactionary program, designed to illustrate the efficacy of torture— show after show, the cops get to the big bad guys by torturing the little bad guys until they tell what they know (and we are glad they’re doing it)— or if the theme is anti-torture, because, when you think about it, the cops who torture (Vic, mostly) lose everything. They lose their families, their jobs are in danger, they lose their friendships and their self respect. So which is it? A rationalization for torture or anti-torture?
Chuck said that the guys who design programs understand how to appeal to both sides of the spectrum. We watch the show and read into it whatever we already believe. And he said anyway any program that works from the perspective of authority, particularly police authority, especially when applied to oppressed people, cities or landscapes is reactionary. So there you go.