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Frank1
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Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Feb 9th, 2015 at 9:36pm
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I watched Breaking Bad and loved/hated it, or perhaps it would be better to say I grew uncomfortable over time as to whether I should be watching it, though I did finish the entire show.  I was conflicted.

I was talking with someone about it the other day and because of that I have decided to work through my opinion of it; said work-through leads to an evaluation of filmed visual media in general.

As a story, Breaking Bad is a classic tale on the dangers of Pride, and how massive pride can lead to massive falls. 

Walter White has been gifted with a great mind, but due to various circumstances he is not able to use it, but is rather put into a station in life lower than he feels he should be in, and perhaps in all fairness one that truly is lower than what his intellectual powers warranted for him.  Due to the intellectually cramped nature of his circumstances, he begins to perceive himself as a loser and over many years internalizes a hatred of his circumstances which transforms into a vicious suppressed pride just waiting to reveal itself.

After his diagnosis of terminal cancer Walt, feeling he has nothing to lose, begins his spiral, and he makes one bad/evil decision after another, the worst of them being that he is given more than one opportunity to turn back and yet refuses these opportunities in his pride.

Such a story has great lessons for us.

So what is bad about Breaking Bad?  I think what is bad with it is what is bad with all modern visual media, which is both its capability to graphically depict violence and sex and the willingness of producers to use these capabilities.  The Bible has stories with violence and sex, but we do not have to watch what amount to soft-porn scenes, or scenes of someone being stabbed in the neck, bleeding all over the floor, and then having their body dissolved in acid.  To see such pornography can do little good for us, it is in some ways the modern equivalent of going to see the blood and guts of the gladiatorial arena, except that in our case no one has to actually die.

As mentioned, the Bible has violence, but it is not graphic.  For example, in the scene described above where Gus stabs victor in the neck what would the Bible say?  Probably: "Gus slew Victor" and it would end there.  We would get the point without the violence-porn.

Breaking Bad could be significantly shortened by being written out in a Biblical, or we might say "mythological" style.  To do so might be an interesting project:

...1 Walter and Jesse went to the desert to cook.  2 After their methamphetamine was made Jesse took it to be sold to a distributor.  3 The distributor, angry with Jesse, took him hostage and went with Jesse to find Walt.  4 Walt and Jesse were threatened with death by the distributor and his friend, but Walt managed to slay them both...


« Last Edit: Feb 9th, 2015 at 9:42pm by Frank1 »  


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Mercy For All
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Re: Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Reply #1 - Feb 9th, 2015 at 9:42pm
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I wouldn't watch the show for a few reasons, but I'm not sure the Bible doesn't always eschew graphic violent description:

"Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out." Judges 3:21-22
  

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Re: Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Reply #2 - Feb 9th, 2015 at 9:44pm
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Mercy For All wrote on Feb 9th, 2015 at 9:42pm:
I wouldn't watch the show for a few reasons, but I'm not sure the Bible doesn't always eschew graphic violent description:


What are they, if you do not mind telling?

Quote:
"Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out." Judges 3:21-22


Fair enough, though a visual description is still not the same as seeing such a thing acted out in full bloody and realistic detail....and what about the people who have to produce such stuff?
  


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Re: Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Reply #3 - Feb 9th, 2015 at 10:16pm
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Frank1 wrote on Feb 9th, 2015 at 9:44pm:
What are they, if you do not mind telling?


The primary reason is I don't want to "root for" a guy who produces methamphetamine, even if I'm rooting for him only temporarily. Same reason I won't watch Dexter.

Quote:
Fair enough, though a visual description is still not the same as seeing such a thing acted out in full bloody and realistic detail....and what about the people who have to produce such stuff?


Producing it is completely different. There's nothing really violent about producing it in front of the camera. It's pretty clinical and...probably fun, to a certain extent.
  

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Re: Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Reply #4 - Feb 9th, 2015 at 10:29pm
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Mercy For All wrote on Feb 9th, 2015 at 10:16pm:
The primary reason is I don't want to "root for" a guy who produces methamphetamine, even if I'm rooting for him only temporarily. Same reason I won't watch Dexter.


I do not know anything about Dexter.

Anyways, that is another problem with Breaking Bad...people walk around in shirts that say 'Heisenberg' and show pictures of Walt with his Heisenberg cap on.  Kids do this...they are obviously rooting for Walt.

I am not so sure though if this problem of rooting for the bad guy is inherent in the working of the show, or in the mentality of the people watching the show.

There are many heavy metal bands that love to glorify Satan, or Satan like characters, like Melkor and Sauron from Tolkien's mythology.  I am sure Tolkien never intended anyone to root for Melkor or Sauron.

Then again, the difference is that Melkor and Sauron were not the lead characters of their respective dramas, whereas Walt is the lead character.  I am not informed enough to know if there are examples of such situations in classical literature or not.

Quote:
Producing it is completely different. There's nothing really violent about producing it in front of the camera. It's pretty clinical and...probably fun, to a certain extent.


Well, I suppose it could be like taking part in a gross but relatively harmless Halloween event, for the actors at least.

But as to watching the scenes, they appear real, you do not see people behind cameras cueing you, and maybe even smiling or snickering at you, as the actor does. 
« Last Edit: Feb 9th, 2015 at 10:37pm by Frank1 »  


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Re: Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Reply #5 - Feb 18th, 2015 at 7:37pm
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Mercy For All wrote on Feb 9th, 2015 at 10:16pm:
The primary reason is I don't want to "root for" a guy who produces methamphetamine, even if I'm rooting for him only temporarily. Same reason I won't watch Dexter.


I have decided that you are right that following a story from an anti-heroes perspective, and not just from any perspective but from his first person perspective, is worse overall than any violence in Breaking Bad.

I think one could perhaps follow an anti-hero from a third person perspective and not sympathize with them, but following them in the first person naturally leads to you having sympathy with them, and often taking their side even when they are doing things that are completely wrong.
  


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Re: Thoughts on 'Breaking Bad'
Reply #6 - Jun 10th, 2015 at 1:45pm
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EVERYTHING is not a morality play..

Of course Walter White is a 'bad guy' and Breaking Bad is not a story of heroes .. I don't think that viewers 'root' for Walter as one roots for Frodo or Rocky .. But early in the series you do develop a bond with Walter and as your friend you watch helplessly as he spirals downward.. Writer/Producer Vince Gilligan along with George Mastras.. Peter Gould..others..  wrote an absolutely brilliant script and it's hard to imagine anyone other than Bryan Cranston being able to ride this from dark comedy to tragedy.. 

I thought this was interesting.. It's a letter from actor Anthony Hopkins ..
--------------

Dear Mister Cranston.

I wanted to write you this email - so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber - I take it we are both represented by UTA. Great agency.

I've just finished a marathon of watching "BREAKING BAD" - from episode one of the First Season - to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. [Ed note: There are in fact five seasons of Breaking Bad; this might have been wishful thinking.] (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing.

I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!

Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen - ever.

I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I've sort of lost belief in anything really.

But this work of yours is spectacular - absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers.... every department - casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.

From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to - would you pass on my admiration to everyone - Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada - everyone - everyone gave master classes of performance ... The list is endless.

Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.

You and all the cast are the best actors I've ever seen.

That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It's almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

Best regards

Tony Hopkins.   


  
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