This is a new teaser poster (whatever THAT even means) for the upcoming final season of Breaking Bad about which we are all very excited, I’m sure. As you can see, it features Walter White in his trademark glasses with his hands tightened into fists, and in big, blocky, LOLCatz letters it says “Remember My Name.” And this, in my opinion, is the whole problem. In the Internet age, everything has to be the best to the nth degree. Every video you see on-line is the Funniest Video You Have Ever Seen. Every charismatic child with a delightfully specific hobby is The Coolest Kid On Earth. Once a week someone cobbles together a collection of platitudes smash-cut-edited against an Explosions in the Sky song to “make you cry” and “follow your dreams.” That’s just where we’re at! The fact of the matter is that the Internet really came into its own almost exactly at the same moment that the future started to feel rather precarious and life, which was actually always complicated, reclaimed its “it’s complicated” status. And if that is how we want to use it: to glorify and uplift, however much we’re kind of pushing it with the glory, or however unearned the genuine inspiration may be, that’s OK. And so it is. But this brand of unrelenting positivity and perpetual deification doesn’t allow for gradients. You are either Mindy Kaling or you are Paula Deen*. (And today’s Mindy Kaling may be tomorrow’s Paula Deen.) Meanwhile, the Internet has become The Most Important Place to Advertise. Everyone is so savvy. You’ve got to go viral. You’ve got to trend. #HASHTAG #GAMES. Suddenly, old media dinosaurs are printing entire newspapers in IMPACT. Suddenly, Walter White, one of the more despicable characters of recent memory, who has so devolved into a murderous, drug-dealing, black hole of misanthropic greed and violence is made to look like a superhero.

Well, fuck that.

It’s not JUST the Internet’s fault. Tourists in Albuquerque where the show is filmed are buying “blue meth” candy and bath salts. Which, in terms of straight up disgusting, is way more disgusting than a slightly misguided poster. Even without the show, meth is a pretty categorically nightmarish drug that ruins people’s lives and wreaks havoc on communities. When you do take the show into account, then the idea of “blue meth” candy and bath salts makes you wonder if there’s even any point to any of it. Like what is Vince Gilligan’s well-written, powerfully acted, emotionally gripping show trying to say? “BUY MORE GAG GIFTS”?! That can’t be it. But even this cottage industry of “blue meth” candy and bath salts, while being a thing that exists in real life, outside of the Internet, has a real ETSY feel to it so I’m going to lump that in too.

Guys, I recognize that I’m being a bit of a scold here, but I don’t mind. Someone has to. I AM THE ONE WHO SCOLDS. At a certain point, we are going to have to collectively grow up and take this whole Tumblr thing to the next level. There has to be a way to appreciate something for what it truly is: in this case a dark, deeply depressing portrait of the incredible almost impossible depths to which human misery can drag you if you’re willing to hold your breath long enough. And enjoying a show like that for what it is will, if we do mature in our thinking and behavior, necessitate that we whole-heartedly, every single one of us, reject the very idea of a BREAKING BAD NAME LAB whereby a Facebook app simply pulls your marketing metric information for advertisers and in return you get a Blingee GIF of your name in the green-tinged periodic table of elements. GAH. Name Lab, get it? LIKE METH LAB?! Neat. So fun. Are we having fun? Are we having The Most Fun Ever?

Breaking Bad returns for the final eight episodes on August 11th. Enjoy it responsibly.

*I’m obviously making a somewhat blunt argument that fails to adequately acknowledge the toxic nightmare that is the Internet’s flip-side, namely YouTube comment sections, and Chris Brown’s Twitter fans. This is a very real part of the world under discussion, so it at least bears mentioning. But even this is in line with the Internet’s “all or nothing” stance on the world. If something on the Internet is going to be the worst then you know it is going to be The Worst Ever.
Comments (53)
  1. Shit, guys. Dad found out about our latest BNPG…

  2. Yo in a slightly related comment the internet is full of Breaking Bad fans with like this weird fetish for subdividing Cranston’s character into Walter White and “Heisenberg” and then like swooning about how Heisenberg is such a badass with his hat and sunglasses and sociopathic disregard for human life.

    I don’t like that they like the same thing as me but they are doing it wrong.

  3. Let’s make some enemies! Gag internet-purchased gifts and memorabilia about shows that address the underbelly of our youth and drug culture are my nightmare.

  4. While of course Walter White has turned into a deranged nightmare of a person, I don’t have a problem with the fact that he’s made to look like a superhero or that we’re meant to root for him. The reason we’re able to do that is the fact that this show bothered to make the effort and take the time to give us insight into who he is and how he came to be that way. And that’s exactly what makes the show great (see: Tony Soprano). Real life Walter White should go directly to jail without passing Go, but Walter White in the world constructed by Vince Gilligan has his reasons. And because we are able to understand those reasons, we’re able to imagine ourselves in his shoes, and we want him to succeed on some level even while recognizing that he’s the bad guy.

    • Sort of off topic, have you been reading about the Whitey Bulger trial? When I first heard about him I thought, holy shit, his name’s Whitey! And then I immediately thought of the characters in Breaking Bad as being a spot-on interpretation of this mob boss.

      • I haven’t been but maybe I should. Everything I know about Whitey Bulger is from the very fictional character loosely based on him from The Departed. So, obviously I know a lot about him already.

    • er, pretty much after the first season, his “reasons” on the show are “being a nightmare egomaniac”.

  5. Not sure what the argument here is, because Breaking Bad is a show about meth, so it should only be promoted and consumed in a serious manner? I ‘d understand this if it were a documentary about meth, but it’s a fictional TV show that is made to be very entertaining and is aired on a commercial network and has advertisers.

    • Are you high right now?

    • “Don’t have fun with this because the show is serious!”

    • The whole idea, as Vince Gilligan has stated in countless interviews, is to turn Walt into Scarface by the end of the series. That means he’s going to be considered a badass, and dumb guys will have posters of him doing a badass thing on their dorm room walls.

      The fact that a subsection of the show’s audience doesn’t necessarily jibe with the ultimate statement the show is trying to make (which I think has more to do with how greed, money and drugs will all destroy your soul and ruin your life than with how badass someone can look in a pork-pie hat or whatever) doesn’t really detract from the show itself.

      Those guys who think Mad Men is great because of the subjugation of women and the suits and the daytime drinking and the casual racism (and they are out there) are totally missing the point. I don’t think it’s the fault of “the internet” (other than exposing them to the world at large and giving them a place to congregate), and I think they’re missing the point of the show. I don’t think it means the show is bad because of that, however.

      • Also: the blue meth candy and bath salts are dumb, yes. They’re also not really affiliated with the show in any way — it’s just attempts by local business owners who live in Arizona to make a few bucks off of tourists who are visiting Breaking Bad locations. They’re just trying to put food on their families.

        I won’t argue with you that they’re trivializing a real problem, which is pretty gross, but what they’re doing isn’t really that new, or strictly an internet thing.

        Visit New Zealand and they will sell you swords and bows and Lord of the Rings stuff, or visit the town of Woodstock, Illinois, which has kept its entire downtown the way it was made to look when they filmed Groundhog day there, and will happily sell you vaguely related merchandise.

        • Not to be a jerk, but it’s New Mexico, actually. We’re better than Arizona! Come visit and I’ll get you one of these:

          It’s actually been really awesome having Breaking Bad film here. I’m not too jaded to be excited when I see places I know on a TV show I love.

      • I thought the whole idea of Breaking Bad was teaching kids the practical applications of chemistry? Like that Bill Cosby movie about math we watched in school?

  6. Oh man, for a minute I thought Gabe was talking about my Breaking Bad/Malcolm in the Middle crossover fanfiction.

  7. This is the greatest rant about the internet ever!!!!!!! (^_-)-☆

  8. I don’t think this is scoldey though. I have a similar problem with talking about shows like this and the wire and the game of thrones – first of all, I respect that who am I to say how someone else digests their entertainment/art whatever?

    But at the same time, what I love thinking about when I watch Breaking Bad is the nature of morality and the grey lines of right and wrong, and when those lines go from blur to bold. There’s so much to talk about beyond the obvious (the obvious being that the writers make characters deliberately charismatic/interesting, and just saying “I like this character” is the same as saying you like the show, and I already know you like the show so let’s talk about why you like that character, and if the reason is that they are badass then ugh ugh ugh)

    Yet, in the end (at least from my experience, it’s always “which character is the most badass” and I think I’m soooo bored with that conversation. I don’t read books or watch TV to spend time with people being ‘badass’. And I owe it to the people who make these things to digest the entirety of their creation, and consider what they are trying to say. Breaking Bad especially is such a philosophically minded show – it is clearly not at all just the story of a guy who ‘breaks bad’, as if we need such a thing….a villain’s prequel.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that who are we to say how people consume things, but definitely we can all make a little more effort with each other when we talk about these things.

  9. I disagree. This whole post sounds to me* like a big, long version of someone getting annoyed that other people (who are maybe less cool?) like the super cool thing you like and so when they get excited about it in a different (maybe less cool?) way than you do, you reject them and their fandom. Cause they’re ruining it for you somehow? You’re basically saying “this isn’t the right way to like this show” which is a pretty silly thing to say because you don’t own how other people like a show, or their experience of the show, or why they like it, or how it affects their life.

    TL;DR: don’t tell me what to like about a show, how to like it, or how to express my fandom. All of that belongs to me.

    As for the “the internet hyperbolizes everything” that happens everywhere these days (The Bachelorette’s MOST EXCITING ROSE CEREMONY EVER!!!) and I don’t understand what that has to do with “Remember my name”

    *I could be wrong

    • It reminds me a little of people getting pissed at girls who would post about how “hot” The Joker was when The Dark Knight came out. Yes, he’s a violent psychopath, and you probably don’t really want him anywhere near you in real life. But he was played by a handsome actor. You don’t get to decide whether someone else found a character in a thing attractive, or whether they think it’s a comedy or a tragedy, or whatever.

      There’s definitely some authorial intent in Breaking Bad to make Walt appear badass when he’s getting his Heisenberg on, and there’s definitely intentional comedy within the show. Is he also a tragic figure whose humanity is eroding away and basically a monster at this point? Sure – but it’s hard to fit all that onto a poster. The poster’s purpose is to make you go “Wow, some crazy shit must be going to happen this season! I better tune in,” not to articulate every subtlety of the show’s thesis.

      • I know! It would make so much more sense if people could differentiate between Walt and Bryan Cranston (who seems like a genuinely cool person) but still…there’s nothing wrong with “loving” a violent psychopath (again, Tony Soprano) and the ride we get to take with him (let’s get a her up in here!)
        And seriously, the poster is a poster. Not a master thesis on the entire show.

        • Exactly. I like how Gabe is getting really upset about a poster for the new season of Breaking Bad and the fact that they are selling “blue meth” candy and yet just last week was talking about how Tony Soprano was the last male role model.

      • I’m only about to finish Season 3, is he totally full-on monster status halfway through Season 5. Sidenote: Is the Fly episode the worst episode of the series? It was the last episode I watched and I heard Seasons 4 and 5 aren’t as good but so far I think it is the least good episode.

    • I especially agree with that last point. “Remember my name” COULD imply he will do something that will match the hyperbole, but doesn’t explicitly state anything grand. I remember Peter Scolari’s name*, but that doesn’t mean shit (no offense Peter Scolari)

  10. I just generally don’t like my movies and TV bossing me around. REMEMBER MY NAME. I was gonna. Now You See Me. Not if you’re going to take that tone. Get Carter. You get him.

    • Catch Me If You Can? What, why. No. Grow up, I have work to do.

    • “You get him” is making me giggle by myself. This is why I tried to stay off Videogum at work (I am alone with binders in a glass-walled conference room right by the elevator bank). It is also why I decided, screw work.

  11. I’m excited for the new episodes.

  12. Breaking Bad is a good show, and we’re all friends, excited to see the last season!

  13. I 100% agree with this but it seems like biting the hand that feeds given that the comment culture here is a giffy slumber party

  14. What I got from Gabe’s post was that trivializing something like meth trafficking is not cool. And I totally agree. Except, weren’t we just talking about Tony Soprano as the last male role model?

  15. Also, this is basically the same tag line as the Carrie teaser posters?! At least Carrie has super-powers. I posted this last week, but, here it is again:

  16. I don’t know. Have you ever listened to people talk about Caddyshack in 1985 or whatever? I kind of feel like because the internet can catalog in written form the things we think and do more and as we’re doing them we feel like we’re ALL doing it more and changing when in reality the same ends of the bell curve of personality are still the one’s doing stuff but I can immediately see it and roll my eyes because I’m bored at work. I mean, the world was a place of slogan bumper stickers and declaring Star Wars the best thing ever and novelty homemade, “Take the Cannoli” T-Shirts and whatever the whole time. People in general like to like things a lot and some of those people will be inappropriate and weird and not get whatever the thing is, but the reality is that just because you have blogged evidence in 2013 of those people selling poor taste novelty candy to each other doesn’t really prove an incline in poor taste novelty candy without receipts of all unblogged poor taste novelty candy pre-2006. Sure, they had to go to the mall, and go inside a Spencer’s, and talk to a person, but there were still a lot of people with Travis Bickle slogan tees who got together. ( Which is also how I feel about the worst things: it’s been pretty clear a good chunk of people have always been racist bigots based on having ears and eyes, even before Jezebel or whatever started making money by selecting 25 of those people’s tweets for a listicle every time a black person was on national television. It should absolutely not be shocking that people who used to say garbage filth to each other as awful bigots over lunch have branched out to their social media accounts, but everyone still seems surprised every time we do this, like racism hasn’t been plaguing us always.)

    Counterpoint to my point:

    I cannot argue we were ever less stupid

    • *I cannot argue we will ever be LESS stupid, that should say.

    • Yup. My grandfather always used to mutter, “99 percent of the world is stupid.” And this was decades before the internet. It was long before .gif responses to being a 80s or 90s kid could exist. Literally.

      Every time I get annoyed by the hyperbolic nature of the internet, I remind myself that most of those voices are those of idiot children who, by the nature of the medium, are given as much of a voice as learned professionals. And learned professionals, especially the idiot young ones just out of college, make their money creating voids of content on BuzzFeed or Jezebel or the Huffington Post, usually mocking racist or homophobic or otherwise offensive teenagers. Because nothing makes a 23 or 24-year-old “editor” (curator? – hahahaha. no. you don’t work at a museum.) at their first real gig feel better than to publicly shame 16- and 17-year-olds who act like the people that made the editors’ lives a living hell when they were a teenager. And all of it is literally destroying journalism.

      Also: that’s why this is my favorite blog. Kelly and Gabe are very good at their jobs and it saves me time on hunting down horrifying or funny shit.

      The world has always been terrible. Now it’s just easier to find it.

      • I just listened to the Conan episode of Jeff Garlin’s podcast, “By the Way: In Conversation with Jeff Garlin,” and there’s a bit where he sums this up pretty astutely: It’s like when people complain about having 200 channels and there being nothing good on.

        There was hardly anything good on when you had ten channels, why would there suddenly be tons of worthwhile programming just because you now have more bandwidth? The ratio of bad to good is still about 90/10.

        That’s how I feel about the internet. We still have the same ratio of good stuff to shitty stuff, but it’s just much easier to find all the shitty stuff now that you would have never bothered to seek out before. It’s also easier to find niche good stuff that you would have never found before..

  17. Meth is great. It gets you really high.

  18. I’m glad Gabe wasn’t around in 1611 when I was peddling my novelty blood-stained daggers (the blood was red sugar!) outside the Globe Theater on Macbeth night. Made a fair bob that night off all the tourists in from Croydon and Twickenham and the other such rube-producing baronies. Also very big was my “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” line of calendars — oh and you should have seen all the little girls begging their parents for one of my Untimely Ripped baby-dolls.

    Didn’t sell a lot of the “Unsex Me Now” nightshirts, though. Still have a box in back.

  19. I was going to go on a massive rant about all of the problems I have with this rant, because I don’t agree with it one bit, but this is exactly the Videogum schtick, so… what is EVEN the point.

    I guess I’ll just shyly pop in to say thanks for making me feel guilty about enjoying a show? And enjoying the fact that that show is filmed and set in my hometown? And sure the main character is a huge, gaping asshole with a god complex, but so is Mad Men? And Scarface? Dexter? The Sopranos? THE WIRE?!

    Oh, and I like the blue meth candy and I’m not apologizing for it.

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