Friday, September 28, 2012

A Big Fish


So, here I am, watching the first season of The Wire, when aquariums and fish enter into the underground world of the Baltimore drug scene.  The character Wee Bey, a hired killer for Barksdale's drug ring, is taking D'Angelo somewhere secret. D thinks he's about to get snuffed (he knows the season is almost over), but instead, Surprise! Wee Bey needs D to take care of his fish while he's running from the cops.

This video is super interesting, particularly because of the way Wee Bey addresses his fishes.  In the tetra tank, he starts naming each fish and finally says that Jezebel is there somewhere, but she can't be found because "she think she's cute or something."

He assures D that taking care of them is easy. "They ain't no problem; just beautiful as hell."

While this clip might seem incongruous with what the viewer knows about Wee Bey, in truth, it says something about the aquarium hobby and what it represents.

Wee Bey fits the portrait of a hobbyist:  he's male and has loads of disposable income. Fish, and especially salt water tanks, are commodities; they represent economic security and, for some, leisure. Maintaining tanks  is time and money consuming and his abilities show that Wee Bey has both of these things in spades.

Aquaria like Wee Bey's mark him in the hobbyist world and the drug trade. Look at these tanks; I'm a big fish!

Check out the video.

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