January 8, 2012

"Breaking Bad"

I finally got around to watching Vince Gilligan's Emmy-winning AMC TV show Breaking Bad, and I like this dialogue from the first season. Two DEA agents in Albuquerque, one white and one Mexican-American, are searching drug dealer Krazy-8's lowrider car and discover the control box for making it bounce up and down:
Hank: "Ay yi yi, Gomey. It's a culture in decline." 
Gomez: "It's a rich and vibrant culture." 
Hank: "It's a car that jumps up and down. What the hell, you people used to be conquistadors, for Christ's sake."

It's a theme of the show that whites also are in cultural decline, as suggested by character names. The two meth cookers are Cal Tech grad turned high school chemistry teacher Walter White and an old student he flunked named Jesse Pinkman, who calls himself "Cap'n Cook" in burlesque of that most admirable of middle class Englishmen.

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm excited you're watching this show. Always Sunny season 5 was really good if you're interested in a comedy.

Dan in Dc

Wes said...

What is the attraction of Breaking Bad? I hear people rave about it, but I can never get through an episode - but I haven't tried that much to be honest. Someone explain the attraction to me. Is it some kind of "hard and gritty" crap with zero moral compass, that guys like so much now?

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT: I was wondering which group of social engineers we have to thank for this glorious, worldwide utopia we're all enjoying now.

The police? Wayward emergency services employees? Ivy League graduates? The US military? The UN? Nosy neighbors? Wes?

All of the above?

BrokenSymmetry said...

A culture that's gone from Bach to Lady Gaga can hardly point fingers.

Georgia Resident said...

Well, half the Mexican's ancestors were conquistadors. Though, given the gaudiness of Spaniards, I can't entirely blame the poor taste of Mexicans on their Amerindian heritage. Being part negro probably doesn't help, either.

Anonymous said...

I can think of few words that have become more odious than "vibrant". I foresee Sailer writing an entire essay on it.

Plethon said...

Wes,

"Breaking Bad" is the opposite of a show without a moral compass. Gilligan has said the show is about the decline of a seemingly "decent" man into evil. That's the theme, set up in the very first episode: Jesse insists you can't just "break bad", but the entire show is about how limp–wrist Walter does just that. If you sympathize with Walter White after a certain point, it's only because his adversaries are far worse. The moral movement of other characters (including one from black to grey to maybe white?) is also part of the drama, but Walter's the center.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading an article a while back in some mainstream respectable publication about how Breaking Bad was by far the #1 show in flyover america, if they broke down the ratings that way. The author seemed confused by this, but it seems obvious to me. BB is different from any other show on TV in 2 key ways. First, there are white male protagonists, not a multicolored dream team. Second, it depicts real life, in a very realistic way. The characters actually deal with the same problems that real life people deal with. Walt and his wife early in the show struggled to get by, meanwhile Hank, the government employee, is one of the richest people they know. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this finally seems like a show that "rings true"

Watch more of it, if you have time. It's a really great show.

Anonymous said...

The show is best viewed as a dark comedy first and exciting crime show second. An interesting theme is competence.

It is one of the few shows where Hispanics play an important part, though they are no where as important for Breaking Bad as African Americans are for the Wire.

Anonymous said...

I finally got around to watching Vince Gilligan's Emmy-winning AMC TV show Breaking Bad...



Holy Cow, Steve, welcome to the 21st-Century!!!

Seriously, I bet that if you could poll the male delegates to the 2012 GOP convention [and get them to answer the question honestly], then BB would be the overwhelming choice as favorite show.

[Well, at least if you could throw out Karl (Not-So-) Christian Rove, Lindsey Grahamnesty, Bitch McConnell, and everyone else whose favorite show was How I Met Your Mother.]

And of course I'm quite confident that BB is the favorite show here within the iSteve-o-sphere.

Wes said...

For Anonymous: It hurts when you imply the world we've engineered for you isn't really cool. We may have to spray some chemtrails over your house to increase your happiness quotient.

Anonymous said...

What is the attraction of Breaking Bad?


Late pre-apocalyptic preparations for the post-apocalypse.

It's in the same genre as stories like The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, Night of the Living Dead, and The Road Warrior, only this time it's not a story - this time it's real: It's survivalism on steroids.

Plus, at least in Season One, the evil bitch in Breaking Bad is the same chick as the Evil Bitch in Sideways, so it's Double-Plus Good-Fun to loathe & despise her.

Anonymous said...

Here's a study for the memory hole on the issue of what is best for illegal immigrant children:

http://www.livescience.com/17778-immigration-childhood-psychiatric-disorders.html
"People who move to a new country during early childhood may be at increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, a new study suggests"

On the other hand it can be used to justify a bunch of early childhood social worker jobs, agencies and funding. So expect to see it cited for that purpose, but not in larger immigration debates.

Anonymous said...

Elite Asian students cheat like mad on US college applications

jody said...

welcome to 2009! haha, ok. just kidding with you. you probably just got tired of people telling you "Oh man you have to watch Breaking Bad."

now, go watch the rest of breaking bad on DVD. you'll be done with 4 seasons in about a week. yes, it's one of the best shows ever written.

you'll appreciate the broad scope of it, the exploration and social commentary on various wildly different groups, and all the subtle nuances. it's right up your alley.

it has to be said, television on DVD is the only way to watch television.

Anonymous said...

How did this make the news?

Aaron in Israel said...

I get it, this is one of those logic puzzles! Like that one where the surgeon says "this patient's my son," but the patient's father was killed in the accident.

Hmmm, two people, one white and one Mexican-American. Hank says to Gomez, "You people used to be conquistadors." Which is the white and which is the Mexican-American? The conquistadors were white, not Indio or mestizo, so Gomez must be the white one. But only one of the two is white, and the non-white is the Mexican-American, therefore Hank is the Mexican-American. Right?

Anonymous said...

I started watching the first episode of Breaking Bad about three months ago on Netflix. Didn't get into it. Didn't even finish the first episode. But then I went back and started watching it again through to the third episode, then fourth, fifth...within two weeks I had watched the entire 3 seasons available on Netflix (and downloaded the fourth), having become completely hooked. Didn't know they had made a fifth season yet. I'll have to get my hands on it. But series definitely picks up after the first few episodes. Bob Odenkirk's fake jewish attorney "Saul Goodman" (the beans always want jews, his character says). Just hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Well, half the Mexican's ancestors were conquistadors. Though, given the gaudiness of Spaniards, I can't entirely blame the poor taste of Mexicans on their Amerindian heritage. Being part negro probably doesn't help, either.

That's Brazilians you're thinking of.

Anonymous said...

Walter White faces decline by asserting himself against the bureaucratic feminist culture that weakened him. In doing so , he becomes more evil and stronger. This seems to be western man's choice as well.

slumber_j said...

Georgia Resident cites "the gaudiness of Spaniards" to my bafflement: I'd say that with certain exceptions (Baroque churches, the traje de flamenca worn to festivals by Andalusian women, the matador's suit of lights) the general aesthetic tendency in Spain is toward extreme austerity. You see a lot of unornamented whitewashed houses in Andalusia and stone ones up north, earth-toned and very conservative clothing, furniture that would strike a Quaker as spare, and so on. Mexican taste is just stratospherically gaudy in comparison.

Or maybe GR means Gaudí-ness, but the Catalans would of course claim he wasn't a Spaniard at all...

Anyway, with respect to "Breaking Bad," I can't get past the annoying awfulness of the title.

Halvorson said...

The show is pretty rich with iSteve themes. Later on in the 3rd and 4th seasons you get introduced to the kingpins of the Mexican cartels who are uniformly played by light skinned Cuban/Italian/French actors, the Santa Muerte cult, and the Mexification of El Paso. It's also somewhat encouraging that Hank, the DEA agent who eventually becomes the show's most sympathetic character, displays the sort of innocuous racism (calling Mexicans "beaners") that would usually mark him as a villain to the audience. Movie critics love to harp on about "moral complexity" these days, but the desire for fully rounded characters doesn't apparently extend to racists, who are seriously Evil, even more so than the bank robbers and serial killers we get as protagonists these days. I remember Jack Nicholson talking about his role as an Irish mafia boss in The Departed and explaining that he had inserted the n-word into the movie's opening narration himself, because he didn't feel the audience sufficiently understood that this Mafia boss was a bad guy and had to be reminded with his shocking use of a hateful racial slur.

Anyways, BB is best in the first two seasons when Jesse and Walt are working at a micro level and still in constant danger. In 3 and 4 the shows gets more fantastical and the action only comes in periodic bursts (but is still pretty awesome when it happens). The show is also probably the all-time champ at capturing the hilarious stupidity of ordinary lower class conversation. You should definitely write something up for Taki's.

Marlowe said...

Where figures from the past stand tall,
And mocking voices ring the halls.
Imperialistic house of prayer,
Conquistadors who took their share.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me...

Kylie said...

"What is the attraction of Breaking Bad? I hear people rave about it, but I can never get through an episode - but I haven't tried that much to be honest. Someone explain the attraction to me. Is it some kind of 'hard and gritty' crap with zero moral compass, that guys like so much now?"

My thoughts and experience exactly. It's apparently another one of those "edgy" shows that are so tiresome.

"A culture that's gone from Bach to Lady Gaga can hardly point fingers."

I'm not sure what you mean by that. My understanding is that, far from pointing fingers in condemnation, our culture is revelling, wallowing even, in its own debasement.

I never did see the appeal of that. It reminds me of the drunks in my old neighborhood, who thought nothing of trying to bum smokes from passersby while sitting in pools of their own urine. They seemed to regard their self-inflicted degradation almost a badge of honor or at least, the nearest they could get to a noteworthy achievement.

Anonymous said...

Rethinking "Out of Africa"

Anonymous said...

@Wes 2:18:

I don't mind shows that have no moral compass, but BB is one of the most boring shows I've ever seen.

I tried to get through the first series, but it was just so. freaking. dull.

JI said...

Ha! Great line. Another of my favorites from Breaking Bad is when Jesse tells Walter, "In times like this, you don't need a criminal attorney. You need a CRIMINAL attorney."

Dominion of Canada said...

I don't know how far you are into it, but eventually Walt starts going by the name "Heisenberg".

Mr. Anon said...

"Breaking Bad" hints at a lot of things which are never said on TV. And though it dances more closely around them than just about anything else, it is still dancing around them.

Another theme it touches on, familiar to readers of Tom Wolfe or the Steveosphere, are the various ways that men use to signal their dominance.

Jim Bowery said...

The most poignant episode is the one in which Walter White describes to his high school chemistry students the compensation of a General Electric engineer for his invention that made GE billions:

A ten dollar savings bond.

We then learn that Walter White had helped found a company that made billions for his founding partner while Walter ended up a high school teacher with cancer.

As W. D. Hamilton’s paper, “Innate Social Aptitudes of Man” warned:

“Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity.”

What Hamilton is really describing is the way civilization exterminates inventive genes in its gene pool by failing to return to the inventor the fruits of his invention—instead—feeding the reproduction of competing genes.

This is why Robert Trivers called "Innate Social Aptitudes of Man" Hamilton's "fascist" paper. Thank G-d for the bulwarks of civilization like Trivers or we might all end up in death camps or something.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

The names White and Pinkman may or not have racial overtones. Gilligan has stated that they're really a homage to the pseudonyms in "Reservoir Dogs." But why he chose those two colors...

As to the show's appeal, it's a good mix of high-stakes danger, complicated characters and dark humor set forth with quality production, writing and acting. I can't recall having enjoyed a TV show more.

Matt said...

In general, latinos make good music, wear awesome clothes, and cook food that I enjoy. Add in their religiosity and large family size, and you have a mix that I think is awesome.

The problem is dosage: if I had to go out of my way to experience these things, they'd be loads of fun. Since they surround me in my hometown, it can be rather dull-making.

If there was a fund where I could donate to back an explicitly monarchic, traditionalistic Mexican coup, I would give generously. At that point, closing the border would probably be unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

"What the hell, you people used to be conquistadors"

Half conquistador, half the underdeveloped peoples they conquered.

So, not really true. Odd that people think that, though.

Whiskey said...

The appeal of Breaking Bad is (for women) who a nerdy, nothing guy of no sexiness becomes a ruthless killer, and nascent drug lord, and therefore sexy. See also in that vein, Mad Men (bad, mad, dangerous to know Don Draper), or the Sopranos, or Rescue Me, or the Shield, etc.

Its basically an exercise in writing/producing, to make the unlikeliest of guys (middle aged character actors like James Gandolfini or stand up comics like Dennis Leary) into sex symbols by writing them as bad with a hint of vulnerability.

Or, Chick Crack.

riches said...

Which is more foolish?

Naming oneself Anonymous as commenter @ 3:36am did =it's easy to be both anon and distinct- or believing that SS has never addressed the "vibrant" issue before?

Better Call Saul said...

Watch 2nd season to catch the best character on Breaking Bad, the criminal lawyer Saul Goodman (honorary pipe-hitting member of the tribe).

Here is Saul consulting his new client Badger while held in police custody.

Anonymous said...

"The appeal of Breaking Bad is (for women)"

lol Whiskey

such an expert on women.

He must have, like, so many. Right?

Dennis Dale said...

A culture that's gone from Bach to Lady Gaga can hardly point fingers.

Horseshit. Even in our dotage we put them to shame.

The Chicano problem is the post-Sixties politico-romantic identification with the romance of the Aztecs, over the European conquistadors, mirroring no doubt the stratification of Mexican society along the lines of a wealthier elite descended more from Europeans and a poorer population descended more from the indigenous.

Anyone from SoCal knows well the insolent fatalism of Chicanos and Chicano culture. I have to wonder if this morbid inheritance is genetic or cultural--the casual resignation they display to gang culture echoes their forebears' resignation before the horrors of the Aztecs and others.

TGGP said...

Walt does a lot of bad things, but he's still basically a nerd. He doesn't belong in the criminal world (even if he might like to). And while Walt pushes Jesse over the line, Pinkman has too much of a moral compass to really qualify either. So these two are often trapped in a corner because they're dealing with people of a different caliber.

Anonymous said...

No woman watches Breaking Bad.

Anonymous said...

I just loved the idea of Malcolm's dad making meth. Then I got hooked... on the show. You have to be a bit patient with it, but there are occasional surreal moments (exploding turtle, glass eyeball falling into swimming pool) that are as good as anything on TV, ever.

Anonymous said...

No woman watches Breaking Bad.


This.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey, you've got issues. Wonder what happened to you.

BB always seems like a masculine show made for men to me. Can't really imagine women getting into it - certainly they aren't the target. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Also, for Truth - has there been any interesting reaction in ABQ to the show?

Anonymous said...

"Walt does a lot of bad things, but he's still basically a nerd. He doesn't belong in the criminal world (even if he might like to). "

Hey, now. The isteve readers will be the first to tell you that Walt is exactly the type of person you want running the meth lab next door to you. ;0)

Dennis Dale said...

The appeal of Breaking Bad is (for women) who a nerdy, nothing guy of no sexiness becomes a ruthless killer, and nascent drug lord, and therefore sexy

Whiskey nails the appeal but misplaces the target: it's not "women" but men (or "betas", to use the Gamers' epithet for the great majority of men) who find this story appealing.
This is the problem with TV. Good or bad, it's always indulging the hell out of you.

anonymous again said...

"We may have to spray some chemtrails over your house to increase your happiness quotient."

Wes, just send a 6 pack of light beer or a big bottle of cheap, not too sweet wine. It'll cost less and I'll be just as happy.

Anonymous said...

The appeal of Breaking Bad is (for women) who a nerdy, nothing guy of no sexiness becomes a ruthless killer, and nascent drug lord, and therefore sexy. See also in that vein, Mad Men (bad, mad, dangerous to know Don Draper), or the Sopranos, or Rescue Me, or the Shield, etc.

That explains why you see so many women walking around in Walter White t-shirts. It's the new Twilight!

Seriously, is there anything in life that doesn't strike you as a cutting demonstration of Women Not Liking Nice Men Like Me? Breakfast cereal? Pillows? Horses? Storm clouds?

Conatus said...

We used to call meth 'Monster' in Philly in the late sixties , it blew the top of your skull off with endlessly multiplying possibilities. Is that why Meth is white? Even lower class whites still (after all the government crap they have had to eat) want to contribute to Robert Putnam’s ‘social capital’ and they liked to do an energy drug (so they can do ‘good’) rather than a downer and just numb out?
I think the show is definitely about the downfall of whites, no matter what Gilligan publicly says about his choices of the names Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. He's just being coy. Ya gotta be ambiguous if you want people to talk about you.
Another commenter talked about the lower class conversations but I think Walt swears white. I like the simple, direct dialogue of Walt who I believe twice in the over thirty episodes I have seen, simply uttered the direct "F**K YOU" without any fancy writer's flourishes attached. That seems pretty white to me, efficient swearing.
Yeah these two nice Caucasian guys, White and Pinkman, are super naive F**k-ups and its gets frustrating watching them self-destruct but that shootout with Hank and the two Beanos(as Hank calls them) in the parking lot was THE BEST shootout I have ever seen. The look on Hank’s face as he is backing the car up on the guy’s legs is worth the draining agony of watching two white naïfs screw up.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated Steve....just throwing this out there cuz you like this type of thing...

Could it be that the reason why no one cares when a relative is killed is because of life insurance policies?

Back in the day people used to hang people, but now they say "Well he had a life insurance policy so now the family is taken care of"

Anonymous said...

"No woman watches Breaking Bad."

This one does.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

Jewish professor of African American studies criticizes white participants in Teach For America of just using it to pad their resumes:

http://laprogressive.com/education-reform/teach-america/

I am Lugash.

Kylie said...

"The appeal of Breaking Bad is (for women) who a nerdy, nothing guy of no sexiness becomes a ruthless killer, and nascent drug lord, and therefore sexy. See also in that vein, Mad Men (bad, mad, dangerous to know Don Draper), or the Sopranos, or Rescue Me, or the Shield, etc."

Nothing sexy about that trade or those in it. And the danger they pose is invariably of the gross and sordid type, hardly exciting in any positive sense.

The only possible scenario involving drug dealers/distributors/users that I'd find even remotely comical would also involve clean and sober types wielding AK-47s.

Oh, and The Shield does not belong in that list. The Shield is quality, high-octane entertainment with a great ensemble cast and terrific plot twists.

dearieme said...

It does remind you, though, what an extraordinary bunch the conquistadors were - so much more impressive than the pilgrim fathers.

Anonymous said...

"No woman watches Breaking Bad."

This one does.



Post your email address here at iSteve, and you'll probably get at least 50 marriage proposals by the end of the day.

Wes said...

Thanks Jim Bowery for that reference. It will take me a while to work through Hamilton's paper, to the extent that I am capable. So the take-away message is that being a civilized, agricultural society leads to less altruism and inventiveness? Pretty bleak, although maybe this is why civilizations always seem to stagnate at a certain point.

Anonymous said...

Much like The Home of the Brave I guess.

Anonymous said...

That's Brazilians you're thinking of.

There's actually non-trivial sub-Saharan African admixture among Mexicans. It's around 10% or something.

Anonymous said...

"Jewish professor of African American studies criticizes white participants in Teach For America of just using it to pad their resumes:" - Lugash

It's always the same heartfelt admonishment: whites must love the children whose parents couldn't bother to plan or plan for or stay sober for or stay out of jail for more than they do their own.

svigor said...

If you sympathize with Walter White after a certain point, it's only because his adversaries are far worse. The moral movement of other characters (including one from black to grey to maybe white?) is also part of the drama, but Walter's the center.

This is one way media moves a population from morality toward amorality. The "bad good guy, worse bad guys" thing is textbook.

svigor said...

I did even know what BB was about, BTW. From the name I assumed it was some jive-ass BS so I never watched it or read up on it.

Jacob Roberson said...

Having to travel to get somewhere is a seive - everybody at American colleges sees lots of Indians (the from India kind) and Chinese students. White people who just moved to the city are probably some kind of professionals. And here out east "Mexican" means "Men who work" and "Women who love everybody." Shrug. Back home the SW has Mexican gangs, China and India produce criminals sometimes, and the hicks who stay in the sticks could use some self-control.

Anonymous said...

"I remember Jack Nicholson talking about his role as an Irish mafia boss in The Departed and explaining that he had inserted the n-word into the movie's opening narration himself, because he didn't feel the audience sufficiently understood that this Mafia boss was a bad guy and had to be reminded with his shocking use of a hateful racial slur."

But I hear black people saying that word all the time...

Anonymous said...

"China and India produce criminals sometimes, and the hicks who stay in the sticks could use some self-control."

What planet do you live on? The rural crime rate in this country is a relatively new thing that rises along with rural diversity. Long past are the days when a drive to the country will return you to an all white world. Sure many of the criminals are white but that's not the whole picture.

China and India produce plenty of criminals though they usually only export the white collar kind. India is known for it's pickpockets. And organized crime throughout Asia is a big bloody deal.

svigor said...

That's Brazilians you're thinking of.

Read iSteve's back issues. Mexicans have non-trivial sub-Saharan African admixture.

svigor said...

There's actually non-trivial sub-Saharan African admixture among Mexicans. It's around 10% or something.

The hell? That wasn't me, despite the eerily-similar wording.

Ortu Kan said...

Anonymous wrote:

There's actually non-trivial sub-Saharan African admixture among Mexicans. It's around 10% or something.

That sounds like an overestimate. Here's what big recent study on Mexican admixture (Johnson et al., 2011) discovered:

Among the 984 parents of the Mexico City trios (MEX1), we used frappe to estimate median ancestry proportions of 65% Indigenous American, 31% European, and 3% African; the corresponding statistics in the 46 HapMap Mexican individuals from Los Angeles (MEX2) are 45%, 49%, and 5%, respectively [...] African ancestry is low in both cohorts, although the distribution is skewed to the right, reaching over 40% for some individuals.

But it's a given that this proportion will vary both geographically and by class. See this map for a visual summary of admixture estimates compiled in Bonilla et al. (2005). Note that it's drawn from disparate kinds of data (autosomal, blood group, and serum protein markers) so not all of the pie charts are equally trustworthy (and, as far as the DF breakdown goes, would go with the work cited above), but I think the coarse picture is fairly clear.

svigor said...

And organized crime throughout Asia is a big bloody deal.

It's also a somewhat apples to oranges comparison, between Asian OC and OC in western countries. I don't claim to be an expert, but from what I can tell, belonging to gangs or secret societies is a traditional Chinese pastime. A lot of these gangs are somewhere between Masonic groups and "real" OC, at least in terms of social acceptance. I've read reports that most Chinese males are in some kind of gang or other (Japan's real big on this stuff too IIRC). The numbers are way up there, in any event.

Probably something to do with the Asian personality, plus a tradition of despotic gov't.

ben tillman said...

Thanks Jim Bowery for that reference. It will take me a while to work through Hamilton's paper, to the extent that I am capable. So the take-away message is that being a civilized, agricultural society leads to less altruism and inventiveness? Pretty bleak, although maybe this is why civilizations always seem to stagnate at a certain point.

Bowery's brilliant, a genuine genius. I love his old tagline:

"The promotion of politics exterminates apolitical genes in the population.

"The promotion of frontiers gives apolitical genes a route to survival."

Glaivester said...

You know, there is another show that I think is interesting from a human biodiversity standpoint - even though it has no humans in it.

Allison said...

I love watching Breaking Bad, and I'm a chick. Granted, I knew a lot of people who didn't make it out of the crystal scene, so maybe it's just a kind of nostalgia for life being not that bad anymore.

Wes, the show is about evil. It shows how evil is totally corrupting in every way, to everyone that in comes in contact with, and there's no "just a little bit evil" no matter how much you try to tell yourself that what your'e doing isn't hurting someone else, or is okay because it's for your family.

I totally disagree that White was ever decent. Every single time they show us about his past, we learn that he was always broken, always into power. Walter is Nietzche's Will to Power embodied: once he thinks he's going to die, he feels no obligation to anyone to behave by any moral code at all, other than that power is right, and that his intellect has earned him the power to do anything, including kill.

Jesse, on the other hand, was not always evil. But Walter keeps corrupting.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Have you reviewed Rampart yet? You should if not. And I should read if so.

Woody Harrelson is really good- he's one of the best we have IMO

One of these days Lugash is going to forget his familiar greeting or closing to his posts.....and I'm going to be right there to pounce......

Saul Goodman is a great character. Odenkirk was a phenomenal comedian for a stretch.


Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

OT-See the comments in this article in the Daily Telegraph. many Englishman are tired of the immigration according to the strong comments.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8999752/Alasdair-Palmer-and-David-Barrett-Race-in-Britain.html

PublicSphere said...

Bryan Cranston, playing Walter White, gives a great performance.

For me, the most compelling thing was watching Walt wrestle with a sense of underachievement and failure -- that his talents are greater than his station in life. Also trying to provide for his family. Core masculine themes.

As others have said, the show raises a lot of moral questions.

Walt's wife looks great early on, then horrible later... did she have plastic surgery?

RJ Mitte, who plays Walter Jr., is also great as a teenager with cerebral palsy.

According to the NYT, the show has gotten good ratings in interior red-state metro areas, not so much in coastal blue-state ones.

Dean Norris, who plays Hank, went to Harvard.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

... BB is different from any other show on TV in 2 key ways. First, there are white male protagonists, not a multicolored dream team. "

You cannot be serious. Name me one popular show with a "multicolored dream team," where the minority does not play a token or comedy relief. Hell, name me any shows with a "multicolored dream team," and no, one black token does not constitute a "multicolored dream team."

You make it sound like TV shows are just overwhelmed with positive portrayals of minority role models, whereas the poor old white folks are relegated to the roles of minstrels.

The reality is that for racists, such as yourself, one token black guy is one too many.

Felix said...

Actually, James Captain Cook was a working class lad who managed, by sheer ability, to become a an officer and a gentleman in the British navy.

(His father was a farm labourer, later promoted to farm manager. James had five years of schooling, paid by his father's employer, served a three year apprenticeship as a sailer, and taught himself basic math. James married an inn keeper's daughter.)

Anonymous said...

I noticed the same thing about Walter's wife. She was sexy the first few seasons but something happened after she had the baby. I wonder if it's intentional on the part of the show's creator. Great series, though. Can't wait for season 5.

Anonymous said...

Allison: I totally disagree that White was ever decent...


Well then you're not getting any marriage proposals.

dearieme said...

Felix, that's where half the British middle class came from, isn't it? Bright boys doing well. He'd have been working class if he'd refused schooling and spent his life labouring, drinking and beating his wife.

Anonymous said...

The romance of the Aztecs is correct.

Cortes only had 200 men but had the willing support of the oppressed natives.

Better Call Saul said...

A good contrast that highlights our current cultural divide is comparing Showtime's Weeds with AMC's Breaking Bad. BB's producer discusses how Weeds almost killed his show.

Weeds is the more typical sunny feminist fantasy show of taking a subject (drug dealing) and making it hip, sassy, and sexy. It is totally unrealistic with beautiful people in stylish settings saying the wittiest SWPL things. Only a canned laugh track could make it any cheesier.

Breaking Bad (at least seasons 1-2) is a dark masculine take on drug dealing that shows how stupid, violent and primitive the bottom rungs of society can be. Save for a few key points, it depressingly yet accurately captures much of the nature of the small time drug hustlers, junkies, scumbag criminal lawyers, etc.

TV and film are so infested with banal PC predictability and resulting falsehoods that HBD-lite shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad become big hits with the SWPL crowd.

Glaivester said...

Name me one popular show with a "multicolored dream team," where the minority does not play a token or comedy relief.

How about The Closer? Three (later on two) blacks, one Latino, one Asian-American, four whites.

(I am including Pope and Taylor in the mix).

Southland features a black officer and, as I recall, two Hispanic officers (the guy who died and the black woman's partner), and is adding an Asian-American (Lucy Liu) this season. Of the approximately half-dozen important white policemen, one of them is gay and another an alcoholic.

Truth said...

"In general, latinos make good music, wear awesome clothes..."

Where the hell do you live?

Truth said...

"Also, for Truth - has there been any interesting reaction in ABQ to the show?"

I know a few of the bit players on the show, and used to work in the building across the street from where they filmed the classroom scenes, but other than a local magazine or news feature here or there, it seems to barely register.

Of course nothing in the pop-culture universe really seems to register here, people are strangely neutral about...everything, sports TV, movies. It's sort of a strange town.

Truth said...

"But I hear black people saying that word all the time..."

Women playfully call their sisters and friends "bitch" all of the time too:

"Oh, Anne, you're SUCH a bitch."

svigor said...

You make it sound like TV shows are just overwhelmed with positive portrayals of minority role models, whereas the poor old white folks are relegated to the roles of minstrels.

The reality is that for racists, such as yourself, one token black guy is one too many.


You make it sound like villainy and vice aren't nearly exclusively White on TV, while Blacks and Mestizos aren't portrayed 10x better than they are in real life.

You make it sound like the overall politics aren't anti-White.

This while the vast majority of consumer dollars being targeted are in White hands, mind you.

Anonymous said...

It was either Bryan Cranston or Vince Gilligan who described the show as "Watching Mr. Chips turn into Scarface". In Season 1, it is very easy for a viewer to root for Walter White with no reservations. As the show goes on, that becomes much harder.

- KXB

Wandrin said...

I couldn't get into BB when i tried watching it but reading the comments i can see where it might be coming from. Civilization can't work unless men turn down the dial on the testosterone. Now civilization is collapsing and falling apart you're seeing the first signs of that process going into reverse.

I'll have to give it a second try.

syon said...

dearime:"It does remind you, though, what an extraordinary bunch the conquistadors were - so much more impressive than the pilgrim fathers."

Hardly. The conquistadors merely built a Western superstructure upon a pre-existing Amerind base; the Pilgrims, in contrast, were engaged in the far more difficult task of creating both base and superstructure.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

I totally agree with Allison's take above. Walt was always evil. It just took the right set of circumstances to bring his evil nature to the surface.

What's more is the twist that the show takes later on. I think it's finally been revealed that the protagonist of the show is not Walt, as we have been led to believe. It's Jesse. Jesse is sort of an everyman - a man whose personal limitations and poor life decisions have put him in the desparate situation that he is in. Contrast that with Walt. It was made clear in the first season that Walt had alternatives to meth dealing. And while Walt's actions have become more and more immoral as the show progresses, Jesse has been shown as developing more of a conscience. I think that the show will end with Jesse ultimately redeeming himself, while Walt, as the true villain, will fall hard.

Anonymous said...

James had five years of schooling, paid by his father's employer, served a three year apprenticeship as a sailer

So when Steve packs it in, James will be ready to take over this blog?

Anonymous said...

Civilization can't work unless men turn down the dial on the testosterone.

1989 called. It wants its hoary old feminist cliche back.

Anonymous said...

Civilization can't work unless men turn down the dial on the testosterone. Now civilization is collapsing and falling apart you're seeing the first signs of that process going into reverse.

Bingo.

Anonymous said...

omments i can see where it might be coming from. Civilization can't work unless men turn down the dial on the testosterone. Now civilization is collapsing and falling apart you're seeing the first signs of that process going into reverse.

Isn't it a liberal "fact" that natural afleets have more testosterone and if testosterone is causing civilisations collapse then ... .

Wandrin said...

"1989 called. It wants its hoary old feminist cliche back."

Spoken like someone who doesn't have to control their aggression.

They were right, except being nasty, bitter and anti-male they defined aggression as a bad thing when it's actually a tool. As long as you can control it and turn it up or down at will aggression is extremely useful and will get you and your kith and kin out of all sorts of bad situations.

However civilization can't work unless the bulk of men in that civilization can control it.

It's actually an interesting idea if you also wonder if civilization can survive if the bulk of the men within it are not aggressive enough (which i do)

So
1) civilization can't work if men can't control their aggression
2) civilization tends to gradually breed more passive men over time
3) civilization can't maintain itself against an external threat if the men aren't aggressive enough

So in terms of aggression vs self-control
- barbarism creates 8-4 men
- farming creates 6-6 men
- civilization requires aggression <= self-control
- civilization breeds 4-6 men over time
- with an advantage of numbers 6-6 men can successfully defend against 8-4 men but 4-6 men can't

kinda the history of the world in a nutshell

solution:
- civilization needs to consciously breed men to be 8-10 with some 10-10s for the military

Wandrin said...

"Isn't it a liberal "fact" that natural afleets have more testosterone and if testosterone is causing civilisations collapse then ..."

It's not the level of testosterone it's the level relative to the level of control.

high testosterone and low self control = very bad thing

high testosterone and high(er) self control= very good thing

Anonymous said...

Spoken like someone who doesn't have to control their aggression.

Spoken like someone who gets his "deep" ideas from comic books.

advantage 40+ said...

"So when Steve packs it in, James will be ready to take over this blog?"


Don't know much about history.

Don't know much biology.

Don't know much about the French I took.

La, la, la.

Laura Z said...

"1) civilization can't work if men can't control their aggression
2) civilization tends to gradually breed more passive men over time
3) civilization can't maintain itself against an external threat if the men aren't aggressive enough"

You're so wrong about this. People are no more or less aggressive than they ever were. "Civilizing" means that society doesn't allow spontaneous, uncontrolled displays of aggression though it does have outlets for it such as sports. Others exchange overt displays of animosity for passive aggressive ones. A few days of a perceived breakdown in legitimate authority can degenerate into astonishing levels of aggression, much of it mere vying for control rather than protection. Nothing's changed. Evolution doesn't happen that fast. And, no, you haven't replaced the physically bold mesomorphs with more passive ectomorphs and endomorphs. Fact is aggression doesn't have a body type. Any lineup of the wife beaters in a town will display all the physical types.

You guys are into phrenology and palm reading too, aren't you.

Anonymous said...

Don't know much about history.
Don't know much biology. Don't know much about the French I took.
La, la, la.


Whoosh!

Marc B said...

There was another scene in season 2 when Hank's wife and sister were talking about the sister joining her husband in El Paso for a DEA investigation. The sister told her no way was she going down there, and that it was already "third world enough around here". I replayed that several times for my girlfriend, because she didn't believe that dialog would have made the cut.

One of the really good things about the show is that they cast a lot of European looking Spaniards instead of just hiring Mexicans, and it is a more accurate representation the local population than I would normally expect. I lived there for six long months, and we refereed to it as Alba-Cracky for a reason. It was already one of the most screwed up places in the country circa 1993, and it looks like it is just getting worse.

Better Call Saul said...



So in terms of aggression vs self-control

- barbarism creates 8-4 men
- farming creates 6-6 men
- civilization requires aggression <= self-control
- civilization breeds 4-6 men over time
- with an advantage of numbers 6-6 men can successfully defend against 8-4 men but 4-6 men can't

kinda the history of the world in a nutshell

solution:

- civilization needs to consciously breed men to be 8-10 with some 10-10s for the military


You left out the impact of technology, globalization and increasingly complex society leading to extreme specialization.

With these, modern society needs far fewer, albeit better, workers of every specialization from engineers and designers to athletes and soldiers.

I would also argue that the top of the global pile is ruthlessly selecting for controlled but extreme amoral psychological barbarism in places like Wall Street and Washington.

Anonymous said...

"I would also argue that the top of the global pile is ruthlessly selecting for controlled but extreme amoral psychological barbarism in places like Wall Street and Washington."

They're also ruthlessly selecting for uncontrolled extreme amoral barbarism among the underclass although they may not know it.