"Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works."
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Belated Sympathy for the Devil We All Could Become
"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" Aristotle
Even with my son and several
acquaintances giving it rave reviews I didn't become engrossed in the
now concluded American Movie Channel series “Breaking Bad” until
the last five or six episodes. I knew the basic premise though, that
it was about the corruption and fall of the main character Walter
White. A struggling high school chemistry teacher who was forced by
circumstances to start producing methamphetamine to provide for his
family after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.
By the time I started regularly
watching the show old Walter was already sliding down that slippery
slope of good intentions pretty damn fast and had become just as
inhuman as the other professional monsters involved with drug
underworld. At the end of the series' last episode Walter's ultimate
fate was just as many expected with most, if not all, the loose ends
tragically tied up.
Being that I came late to the series,
seeing Walter die on the floor of a neo-Nazi meth lab didn't have
quite the emotional impact it did for my son who was left speechless.
While I understood the abstract reasons why Walter became a drug
producer and eventual kingpin I never “felt” the financial
hardships and corrosive uncertainty that forced him down that path.
This changed a couple of days ago. As I
cruised Netflix looking for something new and different to watch I
saw Breaking Bad listed and watched the pilot episode. It was then
that I got know the good Walter White.
In one of the first scenes in the pilot
episode Walter is seen giving a clearly passionate lecture on
chemistry to a new batch of students. Halfway through it not only
does Walter realizes that they give less than a damn about science he
gets into a pissing contest with a teenage douchebag named Chad eager
to embarrass him in front of the others. For poor Walter the
embarrassment goes off the chart later that day when at his second
job, a car wash, he discovers Chad and his bimbo girlfriend standing
over him as he cleans the tires on Chad's Corvette. Just to throw a
little more salt into Walter's wounds Chad quickly snaps a picture of
him with his cell phone while the bimbo uses hers to report who they
have found working at the car wash.
After that we the viewers quickly learn
that Walter and his wife, Skyler, are juggling bill collectors,
dealing with their son's cerebral palsy, and getting ready for their
second child who Skyler is pregnant with during the pilot. That would
be more than enough problems for most people but Walter soon learns
he has inoperable lung cancer. For those who don't know, Walter gets
the idea to start cooking crack after watching a television news
report with his DEA agent brother-in-law about the police raiding a
Yeah, while at this moment I have not
watched the second episode of the series my son has informed me
Walter's fall from grace is pretty steep. When you willingly step
across the line to the Dark Side for whatever reason you not only
surrender the moral high ground but do a reverse, somersault into the
proverbial cesspool of society.
The trouble I am having though is that
from my sorry ass, bleeding heart liberal perspective society put
Walter into the position where he had no other option than making
drugs to leave something for his family. Not only does Walter have to
deal with disrespect from his students to make financial ends meet he
has to work at a freaking car wash! I have been called strange, and
curiously anti-American, for expressing this out loud but I just
can't wrap my head around the fact that our society finds it “normal”
to pay someone tens of millions of dollars to chase some damn ball.
Hey, I like to watch football and
baseball but in my humble opinion I don't give a rip how talented
Drew Brees or A-Rod are at playing their respective sports they ain't
worth all those millions. A hundred years from now no one will
remember their names other than various sports trivia types. In a far
better, and unfortunately totally unrealistic world, scientists,
teachers, and social workers who work very long and unforgiving hours
would be paid a proper salary. Since they for the most part are
attempting to advance human knowledge, teach our kids, and are trying
to make our society a better place. Part of me is sure that a
thousand or so years from now when all the crap that seems vitally
important to us has been forgotten our descendants will look with
disdain on how we ran this society much the same way we look down
upon the societal flaws of the ancient Greeks or Romans.
But I understand, some people look down
upon teachers because they, wrongfully, believe they get these huge
summer vacations while all the other slobs have to toil through the
year for a single week off. The trouble is that salary mobility here
in the United States has decreased to the point that we have the
HIGHEST income equality in the industrial world. Yes, you read me
right, no matter how teary eyed certain hyper-patriotic types get it
is totally unrealistic to the point of fantasy to believe that the
poor here in the United States can simply left themselves out of
My ultimate point in all this is that
while many in the middle class think they are doing okey dokey and
the working class folks like to bitch about those lazy organized
labor types getting all those free benefits the relative social
position of both is not to far from the Titanic after it hit the
iceberg. The middle class folks finance their lifestyles on
high-interest, revolving credit while the working poor are kept
distracted with propaganda telling them their increasingly dire
situation is because of some nefarious socialistic boogieman.
This brings me back to good old Walter
White. In Breaking Bad his character tried to play the game we have
been taught all our lives. That you work hard and in America you will
get ahead. The trouble is that is a lie for the most part. Sure, if
you're careful, keep your nose clean, and get a little lucky you
might be able to build yourself a relatively nice sand castle. But
realistically speaking unless you are already in one of the upper
tiers of income god help you and your family if some tidal wave like
an economic downturn, outsourcing related to globalization, or health
care disaster hits you.
It's in times like those when good
people get desperate that despicable and criminal actions become
their only way to stay afloat.
You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.