Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Humanities and Cultural Studies
Amy Rust, Ph.D.
Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.
Andrew Berish, Ph.D.
community, distance, immediacy, mediation, mobility
Extending scholarship on Baltimore’s media landscape, I observe how two moving-image texts, HBO’s The Wire (David Simon, 2002-2008) and 12 O’clock Boys (Lotfy Nathan, 2013), figure space and, by extension, mobility in the city. Specifically, I articulate how both figures of mobility relate with each other and to the mobility inequality that has historically and disproportionately plagued communities along the city’s east-west axis. Overall, in both texts, I read a shared anxiety toward sources of distant mediation. Through its sober audio-visual style and serial organization, I find The Wire fatalistically figures Baltimore mobility as conditioned by omnidirectional flows of power. These nefarious flows inevitably stymie any attempt at improving mobility inequality in the city, rendering distant sources of mediation as frustratingly inescapable. In contrast, I find 12 O’clock Boys implicitly critiques The Wire’s fatalistic figuration. Relying heavily on cinéma vérité aesthetics, such as handheld cinematography, this film figures mobility inequality as the product of corrupt institutional mediation. By coding institutional mediation as intrinsically alienating, this film implicitly advocates for exclusively immediate sources of mediation when representing east-west communities. Furthermore, the film suggests that escape from distant sources of mediation is both possible and desirable. Employing Iris Marion Young’s critique of the ideal of community and Scott Ferguson’s theory on care, I find The Wire and 12 O’clock Boys’ figures of mobility to be overly contractive and problematic, due to their mutual eschewal of vital sources of care that always already mediate from a distance.
Scholar Commons Citation
Farrell, Richard M., "Baltimore Mobility: The Wire, Local Documentary, and the Politics of Distance" (2019). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.