Last night the viewers of AMC’s Breaking Bad discovered just how far Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is willing to go to avoid jail time and, more importantly, keep his mountain of money. While his former sidekick Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) seems happy just throwing his blood money away (literally), Walter has promised to confess to the DEA that brother-in-law and DEA Agent Hank Schrader has been forcing him to use his chemistry skills to cook up meth for Hank’s drug empire.
In the preview of next week’s show, Jesse is heard describing Walter as “the Devil.” Say it isn’t so! Can it be possible that TV’s most likable bad guy is twice as bad and only half as likable as I believe him to be?
Earlier this month the RedEye published their “loveability chart” showing the likability and unlikableness of some of TV’s good and bad characters. Walter White was listed as one of the worst characters, and on the wrong end of the likability line. I was a bit offended when I saw this. It was as though someone were calling me an immoral person for seeing Walter as anything besides evil and unlikable.
Is Walter White the devil? Under my generation’s nihilistic culture, nothing is what it seems.
Which brings us to another parade of evil yet popular characters: I’m talking of course about the VMAs. It started with a strip dance by the new and improved, yet oddly familiar, Lady Gaga. Then Hannah Montana came on stage, shook her ass, motor-boated another girl’s ass, and grinded up on Robin Thicke’s garbage.
Amidst all of this, the only thing the guardians at MTV thought offensive was Miley’s use of the word “Molly.”
Ah, Molly — the most fun in a pill to hit the pop scene since her younger sister Ecstasy first became the life of the party back in the ’80s. Nowadays every clubhead and neophyte is poppin’ Molly while every singer and rapper is talking about poppin’ Molly. She’s on everyone’s lips, and practically no one has one bad thing to say about her.
I’ve partied with people on Molly, and from what I could tell, it makes you really intent on dancing. Music becomes a living thing and colors perform some cosmic dance. Light becomes air and the air becomes light. You feel good, you feel happy celebrating nothing more and nothing less than being exactly where you are.
Every time I’m offered Molly, I’m promised that it won’t give me a hangover or that crashing feeling you get from other drugs. You simply float back down, so they say.
Molly and Walter are the same in that way, at least in my eyes. I’m told Molly is a dangerous drug, just as I’m told Walter is a dangerous man, but of all the drugs and men out there, Molly and Walter seem relatively harmless. Walter is a good man doing bad things, unlike a Mussolini or Capone, who seemed to have been bad guys from the start. Because there’s goodness in him, there’s always hope that Walter will leave the empire business and become an upright citizen again.
As for Molly, I’d venture to say that the person who pops Molly on the weekends but otherwise leads a healthy lifestyle is probably better off than the person who eats fast food every day and doesn’t own a pair of gym shoes.
And so, is Walter White the Devil? I don’t think so, just as I don’t think Molly’s evil, or Miley for that matter. There’s good and bad in all three, like there’s good and bad in the drug laws and MTV.
Walter can be saved. He can revert back to being the mild-mannered chemistry teacher, decent husband and loving father of two, and Miley can go back to being Hannah Montana.
They just don’t want to be good again. Not yet.
[Photo: kingjoeg via deviantART]