New Criticals

The Wire and Philosophy: Part One

Just as every cop is a criminal,
And all the sinners saints.
-Mick Jagger

The Wire is a treatise on the ontology of the criminal: petty thieves and drug addicts (Bubbles and Johnny Weeks), sadistic murderers (Wee-Bey and Chris), criminal masterminds (Stringer Bell and The Greek), normal Joes trying to sustain a modest way of life in the midst of a radically changing economy (Sobotka), corrupt politicians (Senator Clay Davis)—the "criminal" does not signify a single, simple, and abstract type of subjectivity, but points to something that is multifarious, complex and, perhaps ultimately, paradoxical. Society so readily and easily pretends to understand the criminal as he who stands against and outside of society proper. The criminal is seen as that radical individual who has no regard for the law, reason, or morality, an irrational surd that must be punished, effectively exiled, or executed if society is to remain cohesive, stable, and free.