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"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Moment of the Decade #3

Omar's Death - The Wire

The single best piece of entertainment from the decade had to show up on this list at some point. And it is with the death of it's most popular and celebrated character that The Wire makes an appearance in the best moments of this past decade.

There's really no way around it: Omar Little was a Bad-Mother-Fucker.

Omar was a man who represented a complete break from all institutions and commitments. On a show where everyone lost a piece of their identity to their surroundings (gang members, dock workers, police officers, public school teachers, elected officials), Omar was able to remain Omar: nothing more, nothing less.

Homeboy lived by a code. He followed the traditional rules of the street...with some revisions. Omar never swore, Omar never stole from anyone but drug-dealers and criminals and Omar gave that money to those in need. He was a gay, ghetto Robin Hood. And he deserved the death of a King. He deserved a death scene much like Harry Potter got (even if that one didn't quite stick): purposeful, honorable and touching.

But this is The Wire we're talking about here.

In the fifth and final season, Omar sought revenge against Kingpin Marlo Stanfield for torturing and killing his homie, Butchie. And Omar's path for revenge took him to the streets where naturally he stole money from a drug stash. Then, in a long, uniterrupted shot - Omar takes money from said stash to a convenience store to buy cigarettes. Omar walks up to the counter and the camera focuses on his blank expression and nothing else. The bell rings, indicating that someone has entered the store. Omar glances over and then back - apparently he doesn't feel threatened by whatever he sees...


The a bullet hits Omar in the side of the head, tearing apart his brain and killing him instantly.

Omar's death scene was not what he deserved. It was quick, brutal and humiliating....much like death in real life. Omar may have felt like a larger-than-life character to us all but The Wire deals with reality, and in reality no one is larger-than-life. In reality - we are all just glorified meat-marionettes whose strings can be unceremoniously cut at any moment.

Sorry to sound grim here - but The Wire just gets to me like that.

Another interesting aspect of Omar's death is that it reveals the true artistic restraint that David Simon and Co. displayed in crafting the 5-season epic story of The Wire. Way back in Season 3, Omar and his crew were engaged in a firefight with members of the Barksdale crew (much love to you if you recognize the names of all these people and organizations) in broad daylight.

At its conclusion the police showed up and witnessed a group of kids re-enacting the fight using their hands for "guns." One young little hoodrat whines that is his turn to be Omar.

Two years later, that prepubescent terror, Kenard, would be the one who would shoot Omar Little in the head.

I love that show so much.

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