Time: “What Baltimore Can Teach Us About the World”

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Photo by Howard Smith, via Flickr
Photo by Howard Smith, via Flickr

Hmmm. Having to teach the world about, well, the world is a pretty hefty burden. But if Time Magazine thinks Baltimore is up to it, who are we to deny them?

In a recent article, Time’s Katrina Gulliver argues that Baltimore is the secret star of two of our most beloved, recent crime dramas: The fictional HBO show The Wire, and the non-fiction podcast Serial. These two cultural products serve as a lens for the many ways that 20th and 21st century systems and politics have hurt America’s urban centers. The failed promise of low-income housing projects, the decline of industrial production, gang crime and the exponential growth of America’s prison population: it’s in those shows, and it’s also right here, Gulliver argues:

By inviting us to witness those “sharing a dark corner of the American experiment,” as the show phrased it in Season 3, The Wire explains the recent history of Baltimore, a city that has been sidelined in American popular culture of the last generation. And though its story is specific, its broader message is the decline of the American Industrial Empire, and how one of the biggest cities in America became a byword for crime and decay: “Charm City” indeed.

Yikes. While we’re all for bringing more attention to systematic failures and exposing social ills, bearing the burden of being America’s tragic failed city is starting to feel a little… heavy. Someone out there needs to cast Baltimore as the star of a light-hearted romantic comedy or something. Please.

 



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