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VINSON: Breaking bad can get you cuffed

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While staunch believers attribute the Garden of Eden as the birthplace of crime, non-believers might cite genetic error as the reason for bad behavior.

I suppose one could say it’s a faith-theory versus research-science debate that rests on the cusp of individuality: Did all this woeful mess, in fact, start with the standoff between Lucifer and the Heavenly Host? Or did Charles Darwin hit the nail dead on the head with his Theory of Evolution?

Regardless, the human race is fascinated by crimes, and even more fascinated by the individuals who commit these crimes.

If what I read is correct, the television series “Breaking Bad” has made its way into the “Guinness Book of World Records” as being the most watched television series ever, with the 2013 season finale being the most watched television series finale ever.

For those unaware, “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is battling cancer and struggling financially to make ends meet.

Not wanting to leave his son and pregnant wife drowning in a sea of debt, Walter White — a chemistry whiz — recruits a former student, sets up a lab out in the desert, and starts producing high-grade meth. In a just a few seasons, White’s character, indeed, breaks bad and transforms from never-pays-his-bills-on-time, pushed-around-by-everyone lackey to an always-on-edge, drug kingpin worth around 80 million, both feared and sought out by other major drug cartels. White’s cancer is treated and, rather conveniently, goes into remission, thus allowing the show to continue as you might imagine.

Though not a fan in the beginning, I must admit I eventually started watching “Breaking Bad” and found it disturbingly entertaining — as in a sighing and shaking my head kind of way!

However, I need to get back to the this column’s particular theme and message: Why is a TV show such as “Breaking Bad” so popular with a world audience consisting of all ages, creeds, races, religions and political affiliations?

“Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan best sums it up with the following take on Bryan Cranston’s character Walter White:

“You're going to see that underlying humanity, even when he's making the most devious, terrible decisions, and you need someone who has that humanity – deep down, bedrock humanity – so you say, watching this show, ‘All right, I'll go for this ride. I don't like what he's doing, but I understand, and I'll go with it for as far as it goes.’”

In short, desperate times demand desperate measures, and most anyone will do most anything to survive, correct?

If the answer is “yes,” are we sending a message that it’s OK to indulge criminal behavior? I know m I know! It gets all two-sided and tricky!

The actual impetus for this column is a bit more corn-fed and centers on a magazine titled “Cuffed” It is published twice monthly, covers several counties in the Middle Tennessee/Upper Cumberland area, and costs $1 per copy. It goes county-to-county and features the unflattering mug shots of people arrested for a variety of charges such as DUIs, drug possessions, drug sales, assaults, etc.

The proprietor of the convenience store at which I purchased the magazine told me that while he couldn’t “give away” other mainstream magazines and newspapers, he couldn’t “keep” copies of “Cuffed” because they sell “so fast!” Well, guess what happened?

You got it, I laid down $1 and walked out of the convenience store with my very own copy of “Cuffed” and read it front-to-back!

Lesson learned: If you break bad against society, there’s a good chance you’ll be cuffed and have your mug shot taken, which just might end up in some pulp-level, $1 magazine for the whole world to see!

Shared wisdom: It’s better to watch ’em and read ’em than be part of ’em!

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Breaking Bad, Crime, Culture, Voices
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Members Opinions:
December 03, 2013 at 10:12am
Philosopher and author, Hannah Arendt, wrote: "As witnesses not of our intentions but of our conduct, we can be true or false, and the hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core."

December 04, 2013 at 4:39pm
What the writer doesn't mention is that people are arrested for almost anything these days. Why glory in their public humiliation by buying these "papers?"
Why not admit that much of this is about revenue and to get you into "the system?"
The real embarrassment is that the local jail is about the largest heated building in a city with a 25k+ student body University.
December 06, 2013 at 10:44pm
This article caught my attention because, like many others, Breaking Bad sucked me in and caught me as a viewer. The cancer carrying Walter White has to battle with his morals in every episode in some form or fashion. Shows like this are great because viewers get to put themselves in hypothetical scenarios that wouldn’t normally occur. To be a criminal in reality is another story. One can ponder if being terminally ill justifies producing/selling illicit drugs as a means to support your family beyond your existence. Why not? The topic is strong enough to hold people’s attention for five seasons. I think that is just the tip of the iceberg. Though, real life criminals are not being paid to feed the inner yearning for morality conflict in television viewers. Would Walter be considered a criminal on the streets? Truth is, he would. I cannot tell a judge the reason I am dealing meth is to support my family, and be released without charges. This is a television program with paid actors and written scripts. Enjoy the show, but understand it is NOT a call to action. Breaking Bad is for entertainment purposes only. Watch responsibly.
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