If the following seems disjointed and rambling I apologize. I’m just trying to work out all this stuff in my head…
I wanted to add that, for all of the time and work and caring and innovation by Prez, the only one of the four main kids who came out okay in the end was Namond, who was pulled from Prez’s class for most of the school year.
This is obviously no fault of Prez, or of the kids. Dukie and Randy were both receptive and responsive, while Michael might have been reachable but obviously had issues trusting adults. Donnelly (Ass’t Principal) was right: short of adopting Dukie there’s nothing Prez could do for him, and there would be more Duquans coming along for him to try and help in the future.
This is what’s so rich about this show. The characters have personalities and motivations and they are of their environment. They may or may not (usually not) have a perspective on their lives. If they do, they know they have some choices, some control over their journey. Namond didn’t see that at first, but Bunny helped him (and Michael finally gave him a push). Randy was obviously the most self-aware of the group, because he was in the most stable situation at home.
But your perspective on your life only takes you so far – circumstances plays a role as well. What might have happened if no one spotted Bodie climbing into McNulty’s car at central booking? Little chains of events: Herc is desperate about the lost camera and inadvertantly gives up Randy to Little Kevin; Little Kevin then gives Randy up to Marlo.
Is Michael right to trust Marlo and Chris (hey, Christopher Marlowe!), who only want to use him, instead of Prez, instead of Cutty, instead of the social workers and counsellors and polices who have the best of intentions? All of the latter represent the System and its politics and bureaucracy, and they also trust the System (Prez and Carver maybe less so, now). Randy trusted the cops (and its worth noting that the cops didn’t set out to destroy him; Bodie finally decided to trust McNulty, who did not intend to get him killed. As savvy as he is about politics, Norman Wilson trusted the System (and Carcetti) to do the right thing with respect to the schools.
The politial/capitalist System is not a malevolent entity; indeed it is represented by those who either want to help or are, at worst, indifferent to the individual. I liken to the way the Greeks viewed their Gods, as a chaotic force that could help or hinder but could not be predicted or controlled. We all are part of the System, indeed we are the System.
Burrell understands the System and how to manipulate it; Rawls understands the System but not how to make it work for him; Landsman understands the System well enough to stay out of its way; none of these men trust the System. Stringer Bell trusted the System. Bunny Colvin trusted the System, got screwed and trusted the System again, and got screwed again. Bodie trusted that System before it became more “efficient.” Daniels trusts the System.
Marlo understands the System. He (along with The Greek, and George Hearst, and, let’s say, WalMart) is the unobstructed face of Capitalism. As opposed to the more subtle version of capitalism represented by Avon Barksdale, Al Swearingen and, say, Sears or GM.
The System can be manipulated, but changing it is like trying to steer an oil tanker. It requires idealism (Daniels, Colvin, Bell), but it also requires getting a huge quorum moving in the same direction at the same time. And the System has evolved to operate so that most of us are mostly unaware, mostly, that anything needs to be done. Most Americans are no more aware of the situation in these inner cities than we are of the situation in Darfur or in Burma.
“Deadwood” is about how individuals began building the System in 19th century US. “The Wire” is about the breakdown of that System in the 21st century.