I was browsing my friend Brad Spieser's site, twinkilling.com, and came across a terrific article with Nick Hornby interviewing David Simon, the creator of the highly acclaimed HBO series The Wire.
A little history: Brad and I had planned on joining forces on a website for some time, and I was originally slated to contribute to twinkilling.com before school and site format veered me towards this blog instead.
As Brad and I talked, mostly idly, over the past couple of years, the one common thread running through all of our conversations was "f*ck the average reader, forget the lowest common denominator." Brad has a long history in Cincinnati sports talk radio and was constantly running up against the cretin mentality from hardened higher-ups in the business. Everybody -- everybody -- Brad worked with in the talk radio industry believed the only way to run a radio program was to pander to the dolts, stoke the angry callers, and kowtow to the lunchpail, sportsbar crowd. Whatever you do, don't confuse or alienate the rubes, hicks, yokels, bums, losers, and fools. P.T. Barnum knew a long time ago what the average listener craved: freaks, clowns, and wild animals. In other words, the same mentality FOX has had since the late 80s when they took television down the rabbit hole and forced the other stations to lower their standards to keep "up" with them in viewership.
Of course, America produces that mentality just as naturally as it produces McDonalds and Wall Street, but to Brad's everlasting credit he refused to sell his soul to the devil on the one thing in life about which he's passionate, sports talk radio. He knew what good radio sounded like because he grew up listening to Tony Kornheiser and Howard Stern, and he knew the people he was working for had no idea how to put out good radio even if they somehow stumbled upon the right direction.
Doing something and doing it well regardless of salary or opportunity has been the bedrock of philosophy in every sports related pie-in-the-sky contrivance Brad and I have discussed over the years. If your name is associated with the product, how could you come to the conclusion that the P.T. Barnum audience is more important than putting out the quality work you know you can produce? The world naturally hardens us as we get older, but it's important to save a meager portion of that cherub scorn we once possessed in plentitude for those few worthwhile battles we do choose to fight against the old guard "lost in the difficulty of betterness."
It's with that background that Brad came across the terrificly in-depth Hornby/Simon interview, a thrillingly reassuring find. Here's that golden quote from the creator/writer/producer of the best show on television:
My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.
Tags: David Simon, The Wire