Superpowers and whale-saving

Also lots about The Wire

Of all the many groups of fervent fans in North American pop culture none is quite as obnoxious as fans of HBO’s The Wire . People who only like hip-hop from 1994 are probably the most closed-minded and the constant whining about George Lucas may make Star Wars fans the most annoying but there’s no one quite as grating as someone who really really loves The Wire .

I am one of those people. Whatever the topic of conversation there’s some part of me that’s trying to relate it to David Simon’s mid-2000s depiction of the decline of the once-great city of Baltimore. Never mind what I was taught at university my worldview these days is mostly shaped by The Wire ’s thesis that all institutions are inherently corrupt and redemption or reform are only possible for exceptional individuals.

See there I go being an annoying fan. Those first two paragraphs were only supposed to take up 30 words. But once I got started I just couldn’t stop.

What makes fans of The Wire so awful is the way we treat people who haven’t watched all five of the show’s punishing seasons. It’s not just that we don’t think non-fans understand truly transcendent television it’s that we don’t think they fully understand how the world works.

For example I know nothing about inner-city education. But since watching the fourth season of The Wire I have had countless conversations about how to fix it with other fans from similar backgrounds. You may teach underprivileged youth and do a great job but I’d be way more interested in your opinion on the issues if you understood what Dookie Michael Naymond and Randy had gone through.

Since the show went off the air in 2008 one of the most disappointing things for fans has been how rarely the show’s exceptional African-American cast have shown up on screens. Idris Elba has made out okay most recently winning a Golden Globe for the British detective drama Luther and Michael Kenneth Williams transitioned well from the immortal (in my heart) Omar Little to Chucky White on Boardwalk Empire but for the most part the actors haven’t been seen on screen much.

That changes this weekend with the arrival of Chronicle and the first major starring role for Michael B. Jordan. Jordan was one of The Wire ’s early standouts as Wallace and the best part of the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights (it’s been over a year since that show was cancelled and my eyes are still clear and my heart’s still full but I still feel like I’ve lost something).

But for anyone who hasn’t seen those two criminally underwatched shows Chronicle will likely be their introduction to Jordan. They should get ready because the guy oozes charisma and can handle emotionally heavy scenes as well as anyone in the business.

Chronicle is a found-footage film about three high school kids who develop superpowers and then turn out to be pricks. Or at least one of them does. Advance word from critics suggests it takes an original approach to the material and could be an early 2012 highlight.

But most importantly to Wire fans like myself it answers an important question: Where’s Wallace? He’s in high school and he’s got telekinetic powers. Suck it Stringer Bell!

Elsewhere both The Woman in Black and Big Miracle are probably going to be way more successful than Chronicle . The only thing about The Woman in Black that anyone is interested in is how Daniel Radcliffe fares post- Harry Potter . Everyone will always associate him with “the boy who lived” but Radcliffe’s decision to focus on stage work instead of films when he wasn’t working on Potter suggests he may have the chops to stick around for a while.

Big Miracle is about Drew Barrymore saving some whales and that’s something I can get behind. I’ve got no problem with whales and I’d like to think that if I was hanging around in the Arctic and Drew Barrymore was there for some reason I’d lend her a hand if she wanted to save a couple of them. What else are you going to do in the Arctic unless you’ve got Liam Neeson with you and he wants to go wolf-punching?

Anyways the point of all this is that you should probably watch The Wire .