The Wire continues to follow an imaginary serial killer as he turns Baltimore politics upside down. In a panic, the mayor moves tax dollars from education to street policing. Politicians, police, journalists, gang leaders, civil servants, and consultants scramble to protect their positions, and, occasionally, serve the people of Baltimore.
As a northeastern city with a crumbing tax base, Baltimore is an exercise in managed decline. All choices are invidious. Everyone plays, everyone loses. In The Wire, it also becomes a place to understand dynamic systems, to see how trade-offs work, and to chart the intended and unintended consequences of decisions made by the players of Baltimore. David Simon has set his ricochet effect to "high," and his Baltimore vibrates in ways that are accidental, unpredictable, and chaotic. Simon helps us see that whatever happens, the people of Baltimore are made to pay in suffering and misery.
The Wire is extraordinary TV. But it is also an education tool. We could ask students to identify the players, the connections, the hoped for and accidental outcomes, the way the system is weighted for certain outcomes, the way small events cascade into bigger issues. We could help students see the real costs of underfunding, broken systems, and corrupt players.
Indeed, it may be time for David Simon to work with Will Wright and make a Baltimore a place where the viewer must choose. It’s time to make The Wire a simulation. (And in my simulation Omar never dies.)
Wikipedia on Will Wright here.