To Watch Or Not To Watch…

Mar 17, 2010 by

It’s filming close to my workplace even as I write this.

Chances are, if you’re living in New Orleans, it’s brought its trailers and cameras, its caterers and props and other paraphernalia your way for short periods of time, all of them appearing like sudden rain, then disappearing like thieves in the night.

Some folks are never going to like the implications of any cameras anywhere near their homes, especially since 8/29/05 happened and its aftermath is still shooting through us as though thousands of tiny samurai swords have taken it upon themselves to slice our innards to shreds. What has happened – and, in too many cases, is still happening in one way or another – ultimately cannot be contained in a panoramic shot, and, with few exceptions, has not been interpreted all that well over the past four-plus years.

There are other concerns as well:

Lately, when I’ve seen promos for “Treme,” I’ve felt more dread than I have excitement. Frankly, all of the trailers for the show that I’ve seen just, well, they bring me way the fuck down.

There, I said it.

I’m not exactly sure what it is and why I feel this way and how is it that I can’t even put my finger on it, but I think it’s born out of the feeling that things are finally looking so up back home, that South Louisiana is energized and happy and has a spring in its step and people from other places are looking upon the celebratory lifestyle the area’s renowned for with great envy once again, that I fear the show will focus on the negative and on the past struggles a little too much and, in doing so, bring us — and I say “us” meaning all of “us” who grew up and/or lived in the region long enough to consider it the place where our hearts will forever reside — back down again.

I fear that it’ll knock New Orleans off the pedestal it’s been suddenly, unexpectedly, but welcomely thrust upon in recent months (Due in no small part to the Saints’ Super Bowl run). I fear that “Treme” will re-open wounds that are healing just fine and don’t need to be picked at, lest the healing process becomes prolonged or, even worse, the wounds become infected. Once you’ve managed to escape the darkness to bask in the sunshine, is it ever a good idea to wander back into the shadows to reminisce?

Why, indeed?

First off, the problems that were exposed by the levee breaches and the shoddy, downright cruel responses to the suffering by all levels of government are still with us. We are still not okay down here. The Saints don’t run this city, much as some of us might like them to (not all of us – I don’t want Benson anywhere near City Hall, thanks). We still have Hizzoner the Walking Id in office, who is causing so much money to hemorrhage from the city’s coffers before he leaves for Dallas that the mayor-elect was so, soo happy when no contracts were approved for the Municipal Auditorium. We have a single assessor in the office who is a holdover from the days when there were seven assessors, and he isn’t exactly known for having done his job well in the past. Sure, the MR-GO has been closed, but our levees are still vulnerable to storm surges and the entire coast of Louisiana needs its wetlands back, not just this city.

And I haven’t even gotten to the daily stuff: our still-corrupt police force, the lack of low-to-middle income housing, the state of our public elementary and secondary education, the emphasis on service jobs that is still too alive and well, the state of physical and mental health care locally…

If you’re living all of that, there’s just no need to flip on a TV and watch it, sure. It’s heartbreaking (not heartwarming) all over again. Too close to the bone. Crazy-making.

Fine, then.

Who would watch that kind of show?

Try the rest of the country.

No, it isn’t reminiscing for us – that’s just a tad too optimistically nostalgic. It isn’t even about remembering, ’cause it’s pretty damn difficult to forget. It’s about someone using that strange medium known as a television series getting it at least a half to two-thirds right in terms of some of the culture down here and the way things are and getting it an audience…and I think David Simon has a better-than-average chance of doing that.

Besides, if it isn’t all that great

If it ain’t doing right by you, or me, or most of the people I know, then we’ll all be writing about it or raising holy hell about it, or it’ll just be reflected in the ratings of the thing.

So there.


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