Monday, April 14, 2008

netflix encounters #2: a classical masterpiece

Recently, I rented The Wire. Loved it. Got effusive about it: "The pacing - breathing itself. The dialogue, Shakesperean in its rhythms - the notes enframed in that pace. The characters, complex and complimentary - the orchestra. A Classical Masterpiece".
Critics (just about the entire NPR cew, for one) and the creators of The Wire compare it to a novel. In which case, it would be in the Classics section. Probably next to the Iliad, Odyssey or the Mahabharata.
As far as popular TV shows go, I can't argue that the classical view is superior to the Romantic one; to even introduce the idea that art is meant to nudge us toward moral improvement and social awareness is to concede to Romantic hope. But for some people, in some places, the classical view is more true, and in such cases, the artist's duty is to show us that these lives are no smaller for that. And it is -- as we always, always seem to forget -- not depressing but strangely exhilarating to see this truth about humanity acknowledged for once. It may not be the only truth, but it's a truth all the same.

No comments: