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‘Breaking Bad!’ ‘Breaking Bad!’ ‘Breaking Bad!’

August 11, 2013
By WES BURNS - Copy Editor (wburns@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

So, has anybody out there heard about how the sun's magnetic field is going to reverse in three or four months?

No, you haven't, because you've probably been too focused on "Breaking Bad" returning for it's final half-season.

What's that? Relations between the United States and Russia have cooled to the point where both sides are ditching meetings and causing a huge uptick in global political pressure?

Who cares? The REAL problem facing the world is: What is Walt going to do about Hank?

Alright, I'm going to get the obligatory SPOILER ALERT out of the way right now. Chances are if you're reading this column you are already a fan of "Breaking Bad," since there is a pretty good chance we actually know each other outside the confines of these column inches.

If you are reading this column while waiting for a doctor's appointment and this page is the only part of the newspaper not being hogged by a man who simply REFUSES to cover his mouth while coughing (the majority of my readership) then you too probably watch "Breaking Bad;" not because I have been insistent in my badgering you to watch the show, but because the show is really quite excellent.

While a collective countdown has been held among my friends and semi-anonymous Facebook friends for months now it seems that, since the premiere episode is happening tonight, the rest of the media has decided to start writing/talking about the show. A lot. More then they should, really.

This unfortunate trend happens anytime the undulating mass of talking heads, ill-tempered bloggers and rancorous radio hosts collectively known as Polycephalic Pundit Monster (PPM) senses there is an event, of any type, that is being discussed in popular culture; PPM decides that, for the good of the country, it needs to weigh in with its oh-so predictable barrage of "commentary."

First up, as always, is outrage.

"What? A popular TV show about a meth cook? Terrible! What's happened to this country? Why, I remember the days when we would all gather around the TV and watch Mr. Rogers until 6 p.m. then go to sleep wearing three piece suits and wake up at first light to till the ..."

I got bored listening to that fake version of PPM's outrage; I can only imagine the horrors of the real product.

Yes, people will always enjoy well-told stories with interesting characters. No, we don't have to idolize the characters, we don't have to emulate them, we just enjoy them. People who read "Oliver Twist" don't go around pickpocketing people because they liked the Artful Dodger; they just fall asleep like the rest of us did.

Second on PPM's de rigueur analysis of any pop culture event: Overwhelming praise.

"'Breaking Bad' is like modern Shakespeare! Walter White is like King Lear as seen through the eyes of a post-9/11 United States!"

Blech.

Statements like this are usually made from the heads of PPM that wanted to be authors but instead became low-rent literature critics churning out page after page of unwanted analysis somewhere deep within the bowels of the cadaverous MySpace.

Yes, "Breaking Bad" is a fantastic TV show ... maybe the best ever made. But if you keep applying the "burnt-out grad student" approach of constantly deconstructing the entire series you're going to end up with thousands of pieces of "post-industrial male archetypes" and "legal applications of law enforcement vis-a-vis drug enforcement" and exactly zero interesting TV shows.

It's not that I think "Breaking Bad" can't hold up to scrutiny, it's that nothing can. The more you analyze ANYTHING the more you change it; it's an important part of physics called the Observer Effect and if you were Walter White you would already know that.

Step three in PPM's master plan to ruin everything you liked about a cultural event through incessant criticism: Nothing.

That's PPM's greatest trick, reducing the analysis of any event into two diametrically opposed sides with zero middle ground acknowledged. Once something finds itself within PPM's sights all shades of gray are removed ... which seems particularly foolish in regards to a cultural event like "Breaking Bad."

So when 9 p.m. rolls around tonight do yourself a favor and watch "Breaking Bad." Don't take notes, don't try to analyze the imagery ... just watch. And if you're watching it around me remember this: There is no talking during the show ... I'm not kidding.

 
 

 

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