The season 4 finale of The Wire closes on winners and losers. So much of this season was about kids and the influences the older generation has on them. A father son bond developed or was attempted with a lot of the characters. Most obvious was with Colvin and Naimen. It was relieving to see WeyBe, Naimens father do the right thing even though it was hard for him to accept Colvin could give his son a better life, or life period really. Seeing Naimen go from one of the trouble makers in his school to literally being forced by his mother to sell drugs and then transform into a kid with a chance at a better life was uplifting. On the other hand we see some disappointments as Prysbuluski sits in his car on a street corner and see Dukie, one his brightest students who he has taken a special interest in, sell drugs on a street corner. Knowing how Dukie’s family treated him, by stealing his clothes and making it impossible for him to be hygenic, he was sadly in a better place living with and selling those drugs for Michael than with his terrible neglecting family.
Michael underwent a pretty big transformation as well, now being a solider in Marlo’s street gang. He kills on order and doesn’t ask any questions and again sadly his life appears to be better than it was at home with his poorly addicted mother. Now he has his own apartment and lives with his younger brother and has taken Dukie in as well. In the end montage we see him sleeping in the back of the SUV after just having shot someone point blank in the head. Michael has accepted his new family and his role.
Then there’s Randy and Carver. Randy has been outed through Herc’s stupidity as a snitch and is a target for other kids to bully and beat up now. Carver tries everything he can, pleads with social services and ultimately becomes frustrated with the very system he serves part in. In the end he is not able to save Randy from having to go to a group home where he will be picked on by other street kids.
In the end of all that happened to the four kids Michael, Dukie, Randy, and Naimen. It was almost shocking that Naimen was the one who got the best deal in the end. Whether we feel he deserved it or not, I feel out of the four kids he knew most what a better life was, and recognized his chance when it presented itself. He was also lucky that Colvin aka Bunny took an interest in him. This is such a great series, there is so much more to know about these character and what they went through and if you havent seen the entire series I strongly suggest you do.
Linda Williams suggest the Wire depicts race differently than other media. She uses a few movies as examples in Chapter six of her book”On The Wire” such as “Bruce Almighty”, “Green Mile”, and “Django Unchained”. The first two as she puts it would be “Tom Films, showcasing a Magical Negro” that continue a tradition of making whites feel good about their own good feelings towards blacks. Django Unchained “seeks either revenge against, or reparations for, previous injury”.
The Wire follows none of these formulas when depicting race. In fact though Race does play an important role, its not so black and white and good and evil as other media suggests. The Wire is full of different black characters, from corner kids and drug dealers, to mayors and senators. Due to this the burden of race is lifted and class is much more visible.
Linda also points out that because of this the blacks that do run around and live in the ghettos doesn’t seem “normal” as its depicted in other media. We see successful and hard working middle and upper class African Americans in the show and it makes us as viewers ask ourselves, whats really going on with these troubled kids in these messed up schools and drug dealers.
A few other ways the show depicts race differently is through Herc and Carver. They used to be partners in earlier seasons but took a few different paths and remain close friends. Herc, the white cop is constantly taking shortcuts and getting in trouble for it. He recently got camera equipment stolen from one of his illegal operations to spy on Marlo and is now taking heat for it from his unit captain. Carver on the other hand a young black officer and teaches his new white partner the ropes, about “its not all about busting heads”, Carver teaches having respect from these people out here and treating them with respect is how to do your police work effectively.
Another example is with the character Carcetti running for Mayor in a prodominatly black city, Baltimore. It was very different seeing the “white guy” in this political office running as an underdog, and leaning on the support of black community leaders and campaign mangers to get him the win. The Wire does a great job with this as its not done as other media. As the book explains When aspiring mayor Carcetti says, “I still wake up white in a city that ain’t”.”he is not portrayed as an innocent victim of the city’s majority black population, but as an Italian American cooly judging his odds of getting elected” Carcetti being white is also not used as him becoming the hero to the city that was being run by an evil corrupt black villain either, as he doesn’t initially follow through with his promises to save the schools and fix the police as he campaigned to do so.