Kudos to HBO’s ‘The Wire’
Posted by lisagbrown on March 7, 2008
HBO’s “The Wire” doesn’t often delve into animal-related topics. But on February 24th, The Wire drew from scholarly work that has reported links between violence against animals and violence against people. (According one study, men who abuse animals are five times more likely than men of similar age, race and economic status who have not abused animals to commit violence against humans. And it’s becoming increasingly well-known that there is a correlation between childhood acts of cruelty to animals and extreme violence in adulthood.) In the 58th episode of The Wire, Kenard, a recurring (minor) character, is seen dousing a cat in a fire accelerant. He and a group of children his own age (all seemingly under 12) pour the fluid all over the cat’s body. Though the rest of the children scatter when well-known street thug Omar walks by, Kenard continues to struggle with the lighter to complete the gorey act. Ultimately, I’m not sure about the fate of the cat (though I’ve read on a fan site that you can see the cat running away in the background of a later scene). Kenard, however, continues his streak of violence by following Omar into a store and shooting him in the back of the head.
The culture depicted in The Wire is a violent one, and certainly Kenard has learned his behavior from the adults around him (including Omar himself, and even the prevailing law enforcement, on occasion.) But kudos to The Wire for succinctly, harshly and artfully exposing the connections between animal abuse and violence against people. Many viewers were disappointed by Omar’s death — not because he died, but how he died. Omar, a violent, ruthless killer, had become a fan favorite, and the audience was expecting a show-down of epic proportions between Omar and his nemesis, Marlow. But personally, I think Omar’s death was perfect. What better way to show the cycle of violence, the effects of city-wide corruption, and the depth of brutality than to have Baltimore’s most notorious killer be murdered in cold blood by a child? And there was no better way to foreshadow the true capabilities of Kenard’s burgeoning tendencies than by having him display them on a cat.