I don't think the character Walter White in Breaking Bad is morally
ambiguous at all. He starts out as a good man who begins making bad choices and
justifying them in his own mind. Each season he slips farther and farther into
evil. There is nothing ambiguous about it. Some people have said they could have
named the show "The Decline and Fall of Walter White". It is a good
study in how someone chooses evil and gets the consequences for it. It is
totally different than the trend to have evil characters never receive
consequences for their choices or actions.
It is always fun to blame Hollywood and TV for the lack of morality society. A
time honored tradition at best, and hackneyed at worst. These media
only show what is common in the culture, they don't create it. Anyone
paying attention would know that corporate America is corrupt, hence Don Draper.
The war on drugs is a failure for obvious reasons, hence Mr. White.Rather than criticize the media messenger, should not the author go after the
I watched a special about the fall of Enron in 2001. The people running Enron
were not as rotten and evil. They were dishonest and they got caught up in
their lie until they believed it themselves.Their traders clobbered
California with a fake electricity crisis to drive up the price of electricity.
Their traders weren't rotten, they were just following the goals from the
company management to be creative in making money without breaking the law. The
management unintentionally created a dishonest organization.The evil
people in society is sometimes us. What is needed however are more heroes. The
people who will be honest even when they get into trouble, or who don't
follow the herd because they have their own moral compass based on right and
wrong rather than situational ethics.Having said that, I think that
it is likely that people who make movies in Hollywood want to shy away from
moral heroes because, morality is bad for their business and it makes them feel
guilty. They aren't truly rotten, just sort of rotten, . . . like the
people who ran Enron.
In terms of analyzing culture and media, the DN editorial board is quite daft.
Humans have always created stories in order to convey important lessons. Even
Jesus employed allegories in order to ellicit a lasting effect on his audiences.
Were the events from the good Samaritan actual events? Probably not. The point
is, we respond better to stories that teach lessons rather than simple
directives. Hollywood is simply supplying products for the vast demand
throughout our culture that lacks alternatives to approaching life's more
complicated areas like manhood and identity in the case of Mad Men or pitfalls
that accompany seeking confirmation of one's genius in the case of Breaking
Bad. If the popularity of these shows terrifies DN readers and editors because
they misconstrue it as an advocation of moral subjectiveness, then I'm
curious as to how one attains contemporary moral progress if not by examples of
conflicting fictional characters?
People like to watch moral ambiguous shows and movies because they allow a means
of self justification for their own personal weaknesses. It's not rocket
Moral ambiguity is all the rage because people today outside of third-world
countries realize that, hey, morality is ambiguous. There's a lot more grey
area than black and white when it comes to morals. Moral ambiguity doesn't
scare me; the opposite does. The worst atrocities in human history were
committed by groups or individuals very, very certain of their moral high
ground.Who can't benefit from occasionally taking a step back,
looking in the mirror, and asking "Wait; am I really doing the right thing
here? Despite what I say my motivations are, despite what my parents believe,
and despite what I hear at church, do I really believe I have a firm grasp on
what's 'right'?" I know many people rue the slide
towards "moral relativism," but with most topics any honest discussion
has to start with the acknowledgement that parties with may disagree with
probably have good intentions, the same as we do. Differences of opinion
don't make one side moral or immoral, and neither do mistakes made.
This statement is very amusing to me, more justification of the state of things
rather than an accurate telling of societal issues. It's just one more
symptom of the decline of modern society. There are correct answers, they
should be based on correct values and then they'll become apparent to
us."We're living in a morally ambiguous world where most of
the solutions to life and death problems — like crime, terrorism, national
security — don't have clear-cut answers. It's really difficult
to decide what is the right thing to do," said Donovan.
In today's PC America good is evil and evil is good. I really don't
see much difference between the festered society that exists in most of our big
cities and that of the biblial Sodom and Gomorrah. Honestly if you ever want to
invision what Sodom and Gomorrah was like just take a trip to NY city or LA or
San Francisco. America is no longer the shining city on a hill that it once was.
Having just returned from San Francisco on a business trip I can say without
hesitation that evil is alive and well in America. My daughter and her family
took a trip to NY last fall and she said she couldn't wait to get back to
the airport and leave - what a scary place!!
Walter White was a very complex character, and people related to him and loved
Breaking Bad because the acting was uncompromisingly superior. The show has
been over for 9 months and they're still winning awards.White
(Bryan Cranston) took us through a vast range of emotions, from the desperation
of finding he had (likely) terminal cancer and wanting to provide for his family
and new baby daughter, through incredible stress and fear, greed, ambition,
pride, ruthlessness, anger, and finally horrendous regret, as his actions led to
the killing of his brother in law. Ultimately he sought and got
revenge (another common human emotion) on those who had killed his brother in
law, and then he died, after setting up his family with his money.Walter White was not "emotionally ambiguous", not to anyone who
actually watched the series. He certainly displayed extraordinary emotional
diversity, as did his partner, Jesse Pinkman. The moral of Breaking
Bad, according to its creator, is that actions have consequences. This message is anything except moral ambiguity.
@patriotHaving lived in NYC and spending significant time in San
Francisco and having read many of your post, I can say with great confidence the
reason you find these cities "scary" is not everyone looks, acts and
thinks exactly like you. These are not scary but rather wonderfully diverse
Not having seen any of the tv shows referenced or the movie, my only comment is
that the scriptures say "For I the Lord cannot look upon a sin with the
least degree of allowance..." That doesn't seem to leave any room for
@PLM"That doesn't seem to leave any room for moral
ambiguity."Is eating pork a sin? What about beef? Consuming
alcohol in moderation? Is smoking a sin, immoral, or just a dumb thing to do?
There's a variety of answers one could give depending on what faith they
belong to.One of the ten commandments is to not have any other gods
before God but we certainly allow people to worship as part of other faiths and
we sure consider many of them to be moral people too. One could say there's
no room for ambiguity or relativism but that doesn't appear to be what we
put into practice. There seems to be at least some ambiguity/relativism for most
people. It's just a matter of degree.
One of the reasons we have so much more moral ambiguity in entertainment is
simply because the writing is getting better, and that because it's so much
easier now to produce a TV show or put out a book, so producers and authors have
more competition. It's not enough now to have a villain who is evil
"just because". Every villain has had experience that caused him or her
to choose darkness and the reader/viewer can sympathize with that, or at least
take pity. As the saying goes, "Every villain is the hero of his own
In my entertainment, whether it's a book, TV show, or movie, I want a
protaganist I can relate to in some way. And that means somebody human.
Someone who does struggle with whether doing something is the right thing to do
for the wrong reasons, or the wrong thing to do for the right reasons.
Nobody's perfect, and a character who is, is a huge turn off. I love
fiction, but I want the main character to be someone I could walk past on the
street in real life.
re: netsrikAgreed. Some of the best characters are
flawed/conflicted. Batman & Wolverine from the Comics as well
Lucas Davenport (J Sandford novels) are 3 that come to mind.