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Justified: Not quite ‘The Wire’ for Appalachia for Harlan native and filmmaker



When Justified premiered, I hoped we were getting “The Wire”  for Appalachia. A slice of realism that gave the  rest of the world a look at the very unique problems that exists in a very remote area of the world, and one that is almost always “spoken for” as opposed to  “spoken from.” For what it is, I think it’s terrific. The problem for me is that it’s not what it could be.

Sadly, there was no David Simon (a homegrown talent who had a special interest in telling these stories) to be a part of it, nor was it what the creative team (all from other parts of the  country) wanted the show to be; with that being the case, I’m glad they took the show the direction they  did.

Appalachia has suffered enough from what Edward Said would call “Orientalism”: essentially an outside  people speaking for a far away culture, unable to  speak for themselves.

With that being the case, I’m glad they took the show in the direction they did: as fun, Southern Gothic  noir. The characters aren’t realistic, the scenarios  are rarely realistic, and the geography  (Lexington-to-Harlan in 30 minutes!) isn’t realistic,  but it sure is fun.

As Holden McNeil would say, “we’re talking about  fictional characters, here.”  You can’t watch Justified and expect a real life imitation any more than you can watch Californication for realistic  depictions of writers, or NCIS for real life depictions of the Navy.

The only thing that ever  upsets me personally is the mispronunciation of names  and places; most recently, they’ve had a character  named “Hiram.” Now, in the normal world, you  pronounce that name exactly like you’d think you  would: “HI-ram.” Except in consonant heavy Harlan,  you pronounce it “Harm.”

Now “BUCKWILD”? That’s another story all together.

Jesse Harris, creator of “Sour Notes”

Jesse Harris, raised in Harlan, KY, is a filmmaker currently living in Los Angeles; he hopes not to die there. His short film Sour Notes was recently screened at a Short Film Night in Lexington.

This article also appears on page 4 of the February 7, 2013 print issue of Ace.

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