The Horror Show of America: 'We Are Slaves to Profit,' the Creator of The Wire Tells Bill Moyers
This week on Moyers & Company, David Simon, journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme, talks with Bill Moyers about the crisis of capitalism in America. After President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address, it’s a reality check from someone who artfully uses television drama to report on the state of America from an entirely different perspective — the bottom up.
“The horror show is we are going to be slaves to profit. Some of us are going to be higher on the pyramid and we’ll count ourselves lucky and many many more will be marginalized and destroyed,” Simon tells Moyers. He blames a “purchased” Congress for failing America’s citizens, leading many of them to give up on politics altogether.
Full transcript of the interview after the video:
BILL MOYERS: Welcome. President Obama’s State of the Union address and the rebuttals from the Republican Greek chorus already have been extensively vetted by the media. So as we say here in New York, enough already. Instead, we have a reality check from someone who artfully uses television drama to report on the state of America from an entirely different perspective: from the bottom up.
David Simon was a crime reporter for the “Baltimore Sun” whose journalism became the material for two non-fiction books, "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," and "The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood." Each became a TV series and led Simon to leave daily journalism to create two unforgettable shows for HBO: "The Wire," about the precincts of Baltimore and the corruption of its institutions...
LESTER FREAMON from The Wire: You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the f—k it’s gonna take you.
BILL MOYERS: And “Treme,” about the people of New Orleans grappling with a new and painful reality in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. CREIGHTON BERNETTE from Treme: What hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast was a natural disaster, a hurricane pure and simple. The flooding of New Orleans was a man made catastrophe. A federal f—k up of epic proportions.
BILL MOYERS: For David Simon, the State of the Union begins with the lives and stories of these people -- which is why he told an audience at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Australia last November that what's happening in America is “a horror show.” His remarks reverberated through cyberspace, so we asked him here to tell us more. He came to New York to receive a career achievement award from the Writers Guild of America, East. Welcome and congratulations.
DAVID SIMON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
BILL MOYERS: Watching the president's speech the other night-- he was hopeful, he was upbeat, he was encouraging and inclusive and what he said. But I kept listening and thinking about that speech you had made last fall in Australia where you said what's happening here in America is "a horror show." And I wonder, how do you reconcile those two visions of our country?
DAVID SIMON: I don't think that you can call the American government anything other than broken at this point. And I think the break has come at the legislative level. I mean, that's the part of the government that has been purchased.
You can buy these guys on the cheap. And the capital's been at it a long time and the rules have been relaxed. The Supreme Court has walked away from any sort of responsibility to maintain democracy at that level. That's the aspect of government that's broken.