Deconstructing The Wire

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: The Wire is a critically acclaimed TV series which is known for its accurate portrayal of African Americans and the society and institutions they are a part of. By employing real–life personas and foregoing television stereotypes, it aims to accurately represent identities of ethnicity, class, and sexuality and presents a plethora of possibilities for linguistic and sociological analyses. This paper aims to investigate the accuracy of African American English (henceforth called AAE) through a linguistic analysis of scripted dialogue from the first season. By employing linguistic theory largely from Lisa Green and Maciej Widawski, this paper analyzes scripted dialogue from the series to see how accurately AAE is represented. The paper focuses on the African American characters employing these dialogues to understand how they perform their ethnicity within the world of The Wire. It was found that the existing syntactic and lexical features of AAE are found abundantly in The Wire and the characters in the series employ AAE exclusively as a means of representing their identity and asserting their ethnicity. The paper concludes that The Wire is indeed an authentic representation of American society when it comes to matters of race, ethnicity, and class, and the language employed in the series is central to this authenticity.

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