Monday, March 10, 2008

Not Feeling the Sting

I gather I am supposed to reel in something approximating the shock of self-recognition upon reading this latest and typical entry in the Stuff White People Like blog, concerning The Wire, which exists in a DVD box set:

The latter is important so that white people can order it from Netflix and tell their friends “they are really into and I watched ten episodes in a row in the weekend. I’m almost caught up.”

If you attempt to talk about an episode they have not seen yet, they will scream and cover their ears. In white culture, giving away information about a film or TV series is considered as rude as spitting on your mothers grave. It is an unforgivable offense.
It's all so true. I am a white person who likes The Wire a great deal. Indeed, it so happens that I did come late to appreciating The Wire and did use the DVDs -- from Netflix no less -- to catch up. And yes, I was glad to have done so, and there were long stretches of time in which I sat through an entire season end-to-end; and in the midst of that, there were points when I was almost but not quite caught up, and did not want anyone to spoil it. Guilty.

Guilty? Is "guilty" the word to use here? What am I guity of? What should I have done instead? Should I have denied the attractions of The Wire, noticed only its shortcomings, rejected and/or denounced the praise it received from sources of opinion I find generally reliable?

Is there something false, phony, insubstantial, or shallow under the surface of The Wire that I've failed to notice? Have I been duped, the limits of my sophistication laid bare?

Should I have invited opportunities to have the entire plot exposed and explained before I saw it play out on screen? Why should I have done so? What is typically 'white' about wanting to experience the drama unfold in the sequence its creators intended?

Was I being too trendy in succumbing as I did? Should I have seen The Wire as just another tedious bandwagon and refused to jump aboard in the name of -- um, what exactly? -- hard-bit independence of mind? A renunciation of anything bearing the slightest taint of popular appeal? Isn't there bound to be a Stuff White People Like post any minute on the theme of 'white people like to defy trends' -- if indeed there isn't already one in the archives?

As I was catching up on past episodes, should I have spurned the DVD version, opting for VHS instead? Laser disks? Illegal downloads? Why? Should I have borrowed the DVDs without using my Netflix account? In the name of what elevated principle? To what end?

Maybe I'm confirming my status as the butt-of-the-joke with each of these many questions, but even in the face of that terrible, terrible risk, I have to wonder what the joke is. I am willing to laugh at myself, but I have a rule (and maybe this is just the all-too-typical white person in me): I only laugh when something is funny.


Zennalathas said...

The joke is definitely that you paid for the DVDS...haha: legally watched tv! Hilarious!

I should probably get back to doing my blog the hell do you find something interesting to say everyday?

Dale said...

Zen, I only tell you this secret because I consider you a friend -- it's not something I'd share with, say, a potential worldwide audience of billions and an actual audience of five or six. Here goes:

Be very, very petty.

Being petty makes it easy to find things that piss you off. From there the blog writes itself.

And yes, I am a complete sucker for paying for HBO. I feel that way every moment I'm not watching a new episode of The Wire. Wow! What a white person thing to say! Or whatever.