I came home from work today to find my wonderful stepdaughter Lily on the Internet. She was visiting the Disney Channel website, and – as one of those unfortunate people burdened with a certain kind of political temperament – I found myself experiencing an involuntary muscle spasm somewhere in the region of my social conscience gland. This soon passed, however: I may be relatively new to this parenting malarkey, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that smart, 6 year-old girls like Lily have little time for humourless lectures on the evils of cultural imperialism.
Plenty of time for that, eh?
Anyhow, like most websites aimed at kids nowadays, the Disney Channel features a veritable platform of games and activities that are tied-into their various spin-offs and cash-ins. Lily was playing on one such game, which was based on a House of Mouse property that I hadn’t heard of called Sonny With a Chance. The game looked something like this:
Appropriately enough, it was one of those mouse-driven, point-and-click affairs. I didn’t really pay much attention to it until Lily pointed-and-clicked at one of the on-screen characters and a little pop-up avatar appeared:
I did a quick double-take. I adjusted my glasses. I looked again:
My arm jerked out and I pointed a trembling forefinger at the computer screen, not unlike Donald Sutherland in the final scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I nearly choked on a mouthful of tea, which was somewhat surprising as I wasn’t actually drinking tea at the time. “Ye Gods!” I cried, “I know that man!”
That man was this man:
His name is Maurice Levy, a character from the groundbreaking crime drama series The Wire. Levy is a corrupt and unscrupulous lawyer who spends most of the five seasons of the show defending the indefensible, negotiating plea bargains and finding legal loopholes for his clientele of drug dealers, murderers and miscellaneous no-good shits. He’s one of the most odious, obnoxious and amoral sleazeballs to ever to have graced a TV screen. In PR terms alone he’s set the legal profession back by centuries, single-handedly undoing all the goodwill earned by the likes of Clarence Darrow, Michael Mansfield QC and the Marvel Comics’ superhero Daredevil.
To put it another way, he’s not the kind of person you expect to see on The Disney Channel.
Of course, it wasn’t really Maurice Levy who appeared on Sonny With a Chance or its mouse-driven, point-and-click game. It was the actor Michael Kostroff who plays the character Maurice Levy in The Wire and the character Marshall Pike in Sonny With a Chance. Actors, you see, do this sort of thing all the time. I should be grown-up about it and remind myself that just because someone who portrayed a thoroughly reprehensible character in the greatest crime drama in the history of television subsequently turns up in a sit-com geared towards the Hannah Montana demographic, it doesn’t necessarily mean that my kids will end up getting Stringer Bell off on a technicality.
It’s not like Detective John Munch appearing in Sesame Street.