In a new interview with The New York Times, David Simon, creator of HBO's Greatest Television Show Ever Made (according to some, anyway) The Wire, does something that has become frustratingly commonplace. In discussing his work of art, almost reflexively defending it, he alienates the people who have, in essence, determined its artistry.
Meaning, he goes and says something along the lines of "Don't talk about this like you get it, only I get it, and you're annoying even if you're an adoring fan." Here's the actual quote:
If you want television to be a serious storytelling medium, you’re up against a lot of human dynamic that is arrayed against you. Not the least of which are people who arrived to “The Wire” late, planted their feet, and want to explain to everybody why it’s so cool. Glad to hear it. But you weren’t paying attention. You got led there at the end and generally speaking, you’re asserting for the wrong things.
So that feels kinda crappy, huh? Having the guy who made a show that we loved tell us we were wrong in loving it, or rather that we loved the wrong part of it. How dare we come in late, how dare we go about "asserting for the wrong things." (He seems to take particular umbrage with the fact that many fans' favorite character is Omar.) It's the kind of statement that, while not entirely destructive, does, if we're honest, color or lessen our enjoyment of the show in a frustratingly retrograde way. We loved it, we crowed about it, we in some small way championed it, and now it's over. But, then, years later, we're being told by the Creator that, oops, we were wrong. We didn't do it correctly. Maybe there is no correct way. What a useless and seemingly spiteful way to interact with fans. Trouble is, Simon's not the only guy doing it.
Though he's in contrition mode right now following the whole Chevy Chase audio leak debacle, take a look in the archives of notoriously testy Community creator Dan Harmon's Twitter feed and you'll find that it's littered with bitchy, sometimes just plain cruel responses to people who comment, often critically, on a particular episode of his show. It's interesting and good perhaps, in a sociological way, that media like Twitter allow the once-invisible creators of television shows to interact with its fans, but when that interaction is as standoffish and territorial as Harmon's, it all seems pointless, destructive and alienating and not much else. Y'know, it makes Community feel not very communal anymore. Why is Dan Harmon such a jerk to his fans? Why is David Simon saying such jerky things about his fans? In the interest of stopping all this madness, we think it's time that both sides, creator and consumer, maybe called a truce and stopped talking to each other. For the good of television.
Maybe let's just silently meet in the middle, which of course is the actual television show. Let that be the conversation. Maybe we here on the fan side should, yes, pipe down a little in general, but more specifically maybe we should stop prodding show creators for information and insight when so often what we get in return is something we didn't want to hear. And maybe -- definitely, actually -- guys like Simon, and Harmon, and Mad Men's Matthew Weiner, and that Two and a Half Men prick (though he doesn't so much count here in that his show is not lauded as brilliant art) should in return keep their tortured, misunderstood artist stuff to themselves. Not be silent, exactly, but at least save it for a quiet table at The Ivy (do people still eat there? [Ed. note: Not unless they're posing for paparazzi]) rather than pompously run their mouths about it for all their fans to hear.
Wanting to get the dish on the creative process is understandable, as is wanting to talk about one's own creativity, to try to give it the contextual framework one thinks it should have. But ultimately, statements, whole interviews even, like Simon's detract from the thing we're all there for. We're missing the trees for the forest, and really the whole reason we're there is to look at the trees! This kind of posturing from auteurs like Simon isn't exactly new, but it has recently begun to feel alarmingly de rigueur, and that's not good. Defending your art is one thing, telling the people that like your art that they don't like it exactly the way you want them to is quite another. It's mean, it's bad, it's poison to the viewing experience.
So Simon et al.? Stop giving it to us. Everyone else? Stop asking for it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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