I have very few chances of finding a match between my photos and the title of one of his series, but that’s not a reason to skip the central place taken by David Simon in the political landscape thanks to his books, analyses and TV series.
Well known for The Wire, a huge portrait of the city of Baltimore, reviewed through failing institutions (the police, the justice system, schools, the local press and politicians) faced with drug cartels, poverty and despair among a large part of the population, Simon is an accurate analyst of American society. Now studied at universities and through many books, and used as a reference by activist groups, The Wire is probably his masterpiece, considering its impressive scale.
Radically pessimistic about how the world goes, Simon is radically humanist as well, paying attention to each character with the same empathy, and describing with a maniacal precision the machinery of social oppression, inequality reproduction and everybody’s contradictions.
The first, long, musical episode of Treme, that I had the chance to see in a movie theater thanks to the festival Series Mania in Paris, made me cry due to its mixed rage against injustice, the solidarity and capacity of resistance as the power of music as a safe haven to live and to create, despite everything.
Each of his creations features sharp observation of a different microcosm: police activities (Homicide – for which he was the producer but not the scenarist), the daily struggle of drug addicts (The Corner); soldiers lost in the Iraqi desert and madness (Generation Kill) ; resilient inhabitants after a disaster (Treme) ; political battles about social housing (Show me a hero, based on the excellent eponymous book from Lisa Belkin) ; the emergence of the pornographic industry in the 70s (The Deuce) ; a Jewish family face with a fascist America in an adaptation of the dystopian novel of Philip Roth (The American's Plot).
Last but not least, the guy is modest, eloquent and humorous.
Conference of David Simon (in English and French), Centre Georges Pompidou, Beaubourg, Paris, 5 Feb. 2020
Updated the 30 April 2020 David Simon is working with George Pelecanos, the writer and scenarist, and Ed Burns, the producer, on a new series about Baltimore. Good news in this dark period.