Blown Deadline’s David Simon is known for tackling tough topics from the racial divide of drug-addled Baltimore in “The Wire” to the 1970s prostitution and emerging pornography industry in “The Deuce.” And he’s equally unafraid to get heavy in his personal life. Most recently he notably tweeted that supporters of president Donald Trump should die — by “a slow moving rash” and “of boils.” Since he was directing the comments at specific supporters and users of the social media platform, Twitter blocked him. To which he responded that he would “get back on” and “basically say all of the same things” at CEO Jack Dorsey.
“I’m going to use the exact same language,” Simon said at the ATX Television Festival Saturday. “I’m just going to say, ‘Really, for your polices, you should drop dead.'”
Simon noted he’d probably be banned again for that.
Simon also took aim at social media on a broader scale, noting that it contributes to a lack of accountability for how information gets transmitted.
“There are always people who traffic in false premises,” he said, “but you couldn’t slander people in the pre-digital era because, in the act of publishing, you made yourself vulnerable. The power of social media has transformed rhetoric. No one is held responsible in the same way when print and broadcast had to be held legally responsible for what they said. The tonality has completely bypassed the structure by which we establish political truth.
The becomes especially problematic because of the way the worlds of politics and entertainment overlap on the platform — and in the arts in general. Simon, a former journalist turned showrunner, said he believes “all art is inevitably political on some measure of the spectrum, and if you’re not tending to what’s happening now, you’re going to be judged.”
“I feel like this is the moment where you’ve got to stand up,” he explained. “Certain things that we took for granted, that were inherently implausible and beyond the pale for our political construct, are now on the table. If you’re trying to occupy public space with narrative, whether it’s television or film or art or journalism [and] you’re not speaking to this, you’re missing a moment that you’re obligated to.”
Simon’s projects have never shied away from confronting the issues that plague America, but shows including “Treme,” “Generation Kill” and, most recently, “The Deuce” have managed to remove themselves somewhat by setting themselves in a different time period. It was when he was filming “Show Me A Hero,” which was set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, that one of the show’s storylines ran parallel with issues about affordable housing that were going on in New York City at the time — right down to the rhetoric being thrown around on both sides of the aisle.
When considering series that depict the Trump era as they run concurrently to his political office, Simon admitted that “trying to stay in-step with the reality seems terrifying to me.”
“If something doesn’t change in terms of how we keep the money out of our political system, and how we keep the money out of distorting our media culture for purposes of maximizing power — until we figure that out, it’s not gonna be a TV show. We’re gonna be staging it as a seven-part play in the recreation yard of Guantanamo,” he said.