this is another post about breaking bad and Missing the Point (and for once it’s not about skyler):
the thing about this show is that it exists within the same violent, chaotic, hyper-masculine framework as mafia movies—see also: why it was important on a symbolic level that walt and jr were watching scarface. that much is obvious. it’s the difference of messages that people aren’t seeming to grasp, which is that those movies are glorifying that kind of mindset where breaking bad is acting as a cautionary tale against it. those movies are saying the man who perpetuates these ideas always comes out on top; he is able to shoot up a room full of people without giving it a second thought and be without morals (or at the very least ambiguous with them) while still being heralded of as the hero by the audience, his peers, the woman he loves.
breaking bad is not that show. walt is not tony montana.
the masculine undercurrent of the show started really coming to a head when gus entered the picture, reminding walt every so often that his “duty” as a man was to provide because that’s what men do and subsequently feeding this delusion of power and masculinity walt was already building for himself. this season has amped it up even more—the aforementioned movie and the intro of the last episode with the revving of the car engines being the most stand out moments so far. however, the further walt falls into this lifestyle, the worse things get for those around him.
so that’s where the divergence happens. the thing i’ve always admired most about BB is that it strives to tell an unforgivingly realistic narrative, and the hard truth of this violent, chaotic, hyper-masculine reality is that it is destructive. from the moment walt begins to give into it he starts down a path of systematically ruining the life of every person he loves; even complete strangers aren’t immune. there is no one rushing to shake walt’s hand and go “great job murdering, manipulating, and basically shitting on every moral code you ever upheld in order to get what you want” (especially not skyler, but that’s a rant for another post). and eventually this rampage of destruction is going to catch up with walt himself. because if only one thing was taken away from this season’s opener it should have been that walt is going to lose everything.
besides the more obvious reasons having to do with skyler, that is what bothers me the most about walt stans/apologists: how off the mark they are about what it is we are meant to be learning from walt’s downward spiral. every decision that walt has made—despite the intent behind it—has been leading to his demise. they have (and will continue to) cost him dearly. the outcome of walt’s story will not be a good one, and he only has himself to blame for it. what about that is admirable?
walter white will go down as one of the most extraordinarily written, interesting, and complex fictional characters in television history, but he is not a hero and his behavior is not meant to be applauded.
Another beautifully written and relevant Breaking Bad post here about the hyper-masculinity displayed in the show (at least in Walt’s character) and the lessons that we should be learning from it, and how disturbing it is that a lot of people simply refuse to do so.