2. Full version of Curtis Mayfield’s “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1xmXOP3lhM
3. Designed by Matthew Boorus and Alex Hall.
4. This phrasing, “transforming these social types into human beings,” is influenced by Lorrie Moore, “In the Life of The Wire,” New York Review of Books, October 14, 2010, as cited in Linda Williams, On The Wire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 29.
5. In the 1970s, another common nickname for the Deuce was the “Minnesota Strip,” referring to the high number of young women reportedly moving to NYC from the Midwest, either to work as prostitutes, such as with Lori’s character, or with hopes of performing on Broadway or making a career in modeling, but instead end up working in the sex trade. See: Philip Jenkins. Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 114. Thanks to J. Hoberman for bringing this historical reference to my attention.
6. E.g., Laura Hudson, “The Deuce Isn’t About Sex. It’s About Capitalism,” Wired, October 30, 2017. https://www.wired.com/story/the-deuce-hbo/ (Accessed December 14, 2017)
7. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), 7. In her book On The Wire, Linda Williams builds on George Marcus’ notion of “multi-sited ethnography,” and similarly utilizes the term “ethnographic imaginary,” arguing, “Serial television melodrama makes possible the larger canvass of the ethnographic imaginary” (15). Though certainly influenced by Williams’ analysis of The Wire, on which more later, I use Mills’ term here instead because its theoretical application more closely resembles my analysis of Curtis Mayfield’s music in relation to The Deuce.
8. See: Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1987), 133.
9. For a detailed study on Marx, commodity fetishism, and pornography, as well as further exploration of the ways “woman-as-commodity exists both as a natural body with a use value and as a body with a socially constructed exchange value,” see Linda Williams, Hard Core: Power Pleasure and the Frenzy of the Visible (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 115. Also see Esther Leslie’s discussion of the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts and prostitution through Benjamin’s writings on historical materialism in Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism (London: Pluto Press, 2000), 114.
10. On the notion of the “feminized communist,” of which Richie represents here, see Joan Tronto, “Hunting for Women, Haunted by Gender,” eds. Terrell Carver and James Farr. The Cambridge Companion to the Communist Manifesto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 134-151.
11. David Church, Grindhouse Nostalgia: Memory, Home Video, and Exploitation Film Fandom (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 86. Also, for an early study of 1970s movie houses specializing in blaxploitation films, see Demetrius Cope, “Anatomy of a Blaxploitation Theater,” Jump Cut, no. 9 (1975), 22-23. [return to page 2]
12. Austin Fischer, “Go West, Brother: The Politics of Landscape in the Blaxploitation Western,” eds. Austin Fischer and Johnny Walker, Grindhouse: Cultural Exchange on 42nd Street, and Beyond (New York: Bloomsbury, 2016), 184.
13. Ed Guerrero, Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993), 137.
14. For more on this point, see Cristopher Sieving, “Super Sonics: Song Score as Counter‐Narration in Super Fly,” Journal of Popular Music Studies, 13.1 (2001): 77-91.
15. Countering much of the dominant discourse repeatedly certifying The Wire as a “tragedy,” Williams utilizes the term “institutional melodrama” as a means of exploring the relation between the show’s serial form and sprawling content, arguing that the “undeniable innovation of The Wire is its effort to tell a melodramatic story at the level of the social institutions that have themselves repeatedly failed to serve justice.” On The Wire, 135.
16. See Alison Herman’s article for more on how Michelle MacLaren, who directed the show’s pilot episode as well as its season finale, describes the ways she and the show’s production team, including its writers, worked to address this fact.
17. Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), 258.
18. Ibid., 259.
19. Michael Denning, “Work and Culture in American Studies,” eds. Donald E. Pease and Robyn Wiegman. The Futures of American Studies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 433. In his article, Denning proposes what he calls a “labor theory of culture” as a corrective to cultural theories invested in ideology critique that ignore the social processes of labor-power, arguing for a consideration of modern culture not just as the production, accumulation, and distribution of commodities, but also as work.