Tuesday, April 28, 2015
H01 Alden Wakefield - Breaking Bad Post #2
Breaking Bad and the Legal System
Walt, the protagonist of Breaking Bad, is stuck in quite the quandary. With terminal cancer threatening to end his life, Walt worries that his family will be indebted for life after his has ended. So, in order to leave his family financially stable, he does what any caring family-man would do: Walt begins to cook meth. This lucrative, time-consuming cooking leaves him with enormous amounts of money to hide and an absence from home which he must explain to his wife. Breaking Bad stretches over five seasons and covers two years of Walt’s life. During this time, the viewer is left aghast at a curious phenome: how has Walt’s DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank, managed to miss the Southwest’s most notorious meth kingpin? An analysis of the show’s views on the legal system explains just this.
The American legal system is often satirized throughout the show. This ease with which criminals elude the police and DEA is astounding, and even the dumbest of characters seem to do so. However, one must look at the lives behind these drug dealers and manufacturers. All those involved due so for the cash flow the job brings. Each of the characters involved in the meth business live in the slums of America, barely able to survive on a normal paycheck. This day-to-day existence which leads to a life a crime is a reflection on the high costs of living and lack of charity in America. Another criticism can be seen of the legal system’s influence on medical care; the catalyst for Walt’s descent into power came about from the high medical bills associated with his cancer treatment. The producers of the show send this message in an attempt to show how immoral and unfair they believe the legal system to be. Should a government even be in control of national healthcare? If so, why do they feel the need to charge such a monumental amount to keep citizens alive and healthy? The healthcare industry in one of the most profitable in America, and millions of people are plagued with exorbitant medical bills every year, simply to treat their sickness or ensure the health of their children.
The legal system’s police forces are also criticized in Breaking Bad. When Hank finally pieces together Walt’s alternate life, there is nothing he can do to bring justice to him. Walt has carefully destroyed any evidence that could “convict him in a court of law.” Although a lead agent for the DEA finally has his man, the very legal system he has sworn to uphold prevents him from locking up the criminal. The seasons leading up to Hank’s epiphany serve to exhibit Hank’s ignorance to the perfect suspect with whom he regularly eats meals, has cookouts, and talks with on the phone.
Take Walt’s predecessor, Gus Fring, for example. Gus is a well-known businessman who is marked for his patronage, especially to the DEA. Yet he uses his business as a launder for the millions he earned at the head of the southwest meth business. Gus’s frequent interactions with the DEA are meant to show a mockery to the US legal system and laws we put into place. It is very common to hear of a minority who hangs around the wrong crowd and who gets arrested for drugs. Breaking Bad implies this social pattern and uses Walt and Gus and exceptions. If you are well-dressed, intelligent, and professional, the legal system sees through your criminal behavior. The prejudices and stereotyping that are wrought in our legal system are perhaps a trickle-down effect of the social superiors that hold executive positions. Breaking Bad suggests that, under a more libertarian government, such social corruption would be lessened or even eliminated.
Saul Goodman, Walt’s lawyer, is another prime example of American legal satire. This qualified yet criminal lawyer takes on the most corrupt and criminal clients in order to further profit from his practice. Saul even assists Walt in his meth endeavors and demands a percentage of Walt’s profits for his help. Saul knows men who can change your identity, kill someone, launder money, and the list seems to keep going. Whenever Walt runs into a problem that threatens his freedom or safety, Saul knows just who to call (no pun intended) in order to alleviate Walt’s troubles. Saul portrays the stereotypical sleazy lawyer who would pardon a murderer for the right price. He represents the corrupted member of our government who use the laws of our country to protect the guilty and the criminal. The viewer must realize that similar events occur every day in our legal system. Are we comfortable with the encouragement of a corrupt system, or do we feel that a time for change is upon us?