When Homeland Terror Passes for Bureaucratic Security: The Wire Meets The Office-University Lecture Series - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, November 9, 2012

When Homeland Terror Passes for Bureaucratic Security: The Wire Meets The Office

The Humanities Center Lectures: Media and Social Change

Friday, Nov. 9, 2012     |     4:30 pm, Porter Hall #100 (Gregg Hall)

Do you know what the NBC comedy The Office has in common with the HBO series, The Wire? The idea that in a hierarchy every employee rises to his or her level of incompetence. According to this premise, codified by the 1969 best-seller, The Peter Principle, people continue to be promoted until they acquire positions beyond their capabilities, where they then languish in their own inadequacy. The other thing the two series share is a fascination with surveillance. The surprising similarities between The Wire and The Office invite us to reflect on the conditions of federal anti-terror bureaucracies today. Is our only protection from Al Qaida a rhizomatic network of agencies, rendered by the Peter Principle? When it comes to terrorism, will Stringer Bell or Michael Scott be able to keep us safe? Come to the lecture to find out!

Alan Nadel is the William T. Bryan Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of Television in Black and White America: Race and National Identity (2005) and numerous other books and articles. In the 1970s he worked for several years as a political consultant and graphic designer.