Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Alden Wakefield H1 Final Blog Post #3
Breaking Bad: Death in Morality
Walter White, played by Brian Cranston, makes his transformation from underachieving father into psychopathic moral monster. White developed his evil alter ego, “Heisenberg,” to act as a portal into the drug world he comes to enjoy so much. Whenever Walter dons his black hat, he is no longer the man who loves his family, but the self-serving, maniacal murderer the viewer comes to love. Walter is empowered through his journey by a relativistic view of the world, “brought to life by his iconic representation of Nietzsche’s ‘will to power.’”
Walter begins his moral decline from the very first episode; he neglects to inform his DEA brother-in-law that he has witnessed a meth cook fleeing the scene of a crime. He instead considers the money the meth business provides and how it could change his life should he decide to participate. Walter soon meets Jesse Pinkman, his former student, at his house in order to offer a meth cooking relationship that we will witness for most of the show. This relationship is the catalyst for Walt’s alter ego Heisenberg, and the story juxtaposes these views. First, we can see how Walt’s relativistic moral conscience twists reality in order for him to convince himself that the acts of terror he commits are for the best. “The means justify the ends” is a phrase we see Walt apply to his life in the fullest extent. The second side we can see is that of the grief-stricken Jesse and the rollercoaster of emotions we watch him endure. His distress shows the existential consequences that happens when man violates the moral code of the world. “If Walter is an icon for the Nietzschean world where God is dead, Jesse is a reflection of the inescapable human condition wherein all men recognize God’s moral standards, whether they attribute their origin to Him or not.”
We see the competing morals of Jesse and Walt played out time and time again. Walter poisons children, bombs nursing homes, manipulates his friends and family, and kills in order to further his self-interest. He becomes so bent on protecting his life and reputation that he grows increasingly distant to the atrocities he commits. We see Walt cry after having to kill a man out of self-defense and struggle to cope with the realization. Fast-forward a few seasons, and he has developed an elaborate ruse in order to make Jesse turn on his employer. The plan? Walt poisons a child Jesse cares about and blames the atrocity Gus Fring. We can see Walt descend from a man wanting to provide for his family, to growing self-interest, to permeated greed, to a man who is completely consumed with the desire for power.
At the start of Breaking Bad, the viewer is made to immediate have sympathy for Walter, a cancer-stricken husband and father with little money and a meek personality. However, as Walt’s character and morals begin to deteriorate, we would expect for his popularity to decrease. On the contrary, viewers became more enamored and supportive of Walt as time passed. The show brings into question the morality of the viewers themselves. How could people support such a corrupt individual? Why do we continue to show affection for someone even after they are no longer themselves? Even in the last few episodes, when Walt had totally lost himself, I still found myself rooting for his cause. Maybe this is mankind’s way to exercise the darker sides of human nature by living through another. We all make decisions that make us drift towards either Walt or Jesse’s mindset. Whether for selfish power or a search for a better self, no person’s pleas can sway us; it is inevitably a choice we all must make alone.