Jungian Visual Medium Analysis: The Wire

Go down

Jungian Visual Medium Analysis: The Wire

Post  kate.lich on Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:12 am

Prepared for: Mr.C
Prepared by:Kate Lichtenberg
Date: Friday January 28th 2011

The Wire is an HBO television series set in present day Baltimore. The series follows a group of Baltimore police officers and detectives fighting crime in different locations of the town. The episode I watched for my analysis was episode seven of the first season. In this episode a group of officers have set up a sting operation to capture drug-dealing murderers. Jungian archetypes are well represented in the show and can be broken down into the headings of situational, symbolic and character archetypes.
The situational archetype which best fits this episode is the archetype of the journey. In this particular episode, and many other episodes of The Wire, there is a group of heroes (the police and detectives) searching for truth. They bring criminals to justice in an effort to restore goodness to the community. Their encounters with criminals can become experiences of hell on earth. There is a great deal of violence and in this episode a cop almost looses his life in a shoot-out with one of the drug dealers. Once the police officers and detectives succeed, they return to their central office as heroes. The ones who don’t make it out alive are also considered heroes.
This episode shows a clear example of Jung’s symbolic archetype of good versus evil. The police force is seen as the force of good working against the evil criminal element in society. Light verses darkness is another symbolic archetype represented in this episode. The police are dressed in tailored clothing, wearing shining badges and driving spotless, gleaming cars. The criminal world is represented as dirty, broken down and hopeless. Some scenes of this “under world” are shot in the nighttime or with dim lighting.
Out of all three of Jung’s archetypal groups, character archetypes are the most diverse in this episode. The five character archetypes I was able to find were: the hero, the mentor, the scapegoat, the outcast and the devil figure. The police and detectives in The Wire would fall under the category of the hero. In this episode a group of “brothers” band together and use their different skills to solve a major crime and capture the drug dealers. They are super heroes because they solve some of the major crimes in the city and they are constantly at risk for danger. I was also able to see mentors in the group of police officers and detectives. There is an older group of officers seen as role models and father figures to the younger and less experienced officers. In the episode the mentors help locate the criminals and coordinate the sting. The anti-heroes are drug dealer and murderers, however they have mentors as well who instruct them how to stay one step ahead of the police force. In this episode a criminals who kills an innocent man could be seen as a scapegoat. He confesses to the murder and could be seen as a victim of extreme poverty. His death will make most of Baltimore and the police feel better about themselves. The two different gang leaders fall under the category of devil figures. They offer money and fame to their gang members in exchange for risking their lives as criminals. In this episode one gang member acts as an informer to the cops because of his grief over his friend being killed by the rival gang. He would be seen as a devil figure in the eyes of the other gang because they would say he is selling his soul for a lesser sentence. The last character archetype is the outcast. All of the gang members are outcasts who never had a hope of making it outside the world of crime.
It is interesting to see how these stories keep being told over and over again. All you have to do it turn on your TV and you will see Jung’s archetypes. The Wire gives many clear examples of archetypes and is a classic story of good versus evil.


kate.lich

Posts : 4
Join date : 2011-01-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Jungian Visual Medium Analysis: The Wire

Post  Maxwell Oginz on Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:38 pm

Not to be mean, but I don't really see the archetype of good versus evil that much in this show. I think it may be there but it isn't the main focus of the artists who produced this show. Rather than depicting the main characters (D'angelo, Mcnulty, Kima,) as good or evil, it focuses on them more as shades of gray as far as good and evil goes. The show instead depicts the actions of these characters only as the actions that they are naturally suited to because of their role in society. Mcnulty and Kima (perhaps the best and most ambitious cops on the homocide team) are taking down the drug kingpin Avon Barksdale because they "love the job" and because they feel that it is their part to rise above "chain of command" to do real police work that many of their superiors are to careless to pursue. D'angelo feels remorse at killing for his cousin's drug game, but he acknowledges that money is the only thing that can get a poor black man out of poverty, and that for him and the boys he employs in the courtyard, money is the only way to eat and it must be obtained at all costs, no matter how much guilt is involved. The story of these characters seems to be as much about the social circumstances that cause crime in Baltimore as much as it is focusing on the war on crime or, in other words, the war between good and evil. It doesn't say, "drugs dealers are evil and cops are good," it says "these are the kinds of things that go on in Baltimore and other poor communities in North America."

Maxwell Oginz

Posts : 4
Join date : 2011-01-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Feedback

Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:31 pm

Kate - good description of the episode and subsequent analysis of the archetypes. I see what you are adding Max, but I think that Good vs. Evil are present. I do agree that it is not black and white, and that is the strength of the show. The show writers know that police and detectives are stereotypically viewed as "Good" and that criminals would be stereotypically viewed as "Evil." Knowing this, the show writers play off those stereotypes to demonstrate that Good vs. Evil can often be situational and contextual. Kate - good observation about how the police were costumed versus how the criminals were physically portrayed. You are demonstrating that these archetypes are not just in personality traits but in things like costume design, lighting, sound, camera angles...etc.
avatar
Mr. C
Admin

Posts : 52
Join date : 2011-01-16
Age : 47
Location : Toronto

View user profile http://mrchris.canadian-forum.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Jungian Visual Medium Analysis: The Wire

Post  Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum