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View Diary: Bookflurries-Bookchat: What a Character! (170 comments)

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  •  "Walter White" (10+ / 0-)

    Where shows like "Dexter" and "The Sopranos" try to humanize & make you sympathize with monsterous leading characters, "Breaking Bad" is different in that it centers on the "monsterization" of a decent man.


    On a lot of blogs, there's been a lot of debate over whether people are "rooting" for Walter, or whether people should be rooting against him. There are some who argue the character is despicable, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But I have to say, that while watching it, I still find myself pulling for Walt. I've noticed there's a difference between people that came to the show late, and those that started from the beginning. I think to get the full effect of the story you have to have seen the guy who at the beginning was working the second job scrubbing cars at a car wash, with his students showing up to laugh at him, while he was hacking his lungs out from lung cancer. While it doesn't excuse the path Walt has chosen, it makes it more understandable & sympathetic.

    Rolling Stone once had an article which argued masculinity & the "American Dream" are core themes at the heart of the show.

    The longer you watch Breaking Bad, the more terrifying Walter looks — not because you might share his vices, but because you might share his virtues. The idea that you can be utterly destroyed, in both body and soul, by a mixture of hard work and intelligence — that's the most disturbing part of Walter's story. It feels un-American and yet somehow all-American at the same time. You can relate to how fulfilled Walter is when he hears the magic words "Get back to work," even though he's covered in another man's gore. But you also know the horrifying truth that the harder he works, the more blood he will see.
    There have been lengthy argument about the audience's reaction to Walter's wife Skyler (i.e. their hate for her) and whether the dislike for the character is based in part on misogyny. The flip side of that argument is that Walter White's turn to cooking meth & "Heisenberg" is the alpha male fantasy that everyone who's ever been talked down to by some asshole with a clipboard or cuckolded by their wife wishes to experience.

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