Saturday, February 1, 2014

Breaking Bad=Broken Show

The idea of dialectic art (teaching through the comparison of opposing views) is older than Abraham and fresher than The Man of Steel, and it's one of the reasons that shows like Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone became (and remain) so successful. Conflict makes a story worth following, but the message defines the conflict.

That message is a major factor in the constant process of cultural evolution, so what happens when the message gets lost in special effects or mind-numbing atrocities? The Transformers movies and shows like Prison Break are examples of this. Labeouf's acting aside, any teaching that was supposed to take place in the first Transformers movie was drowned in waves of CG violence and Megan Fox glamour shots. Ask someone what the appeal of the movie was, and you'll get an instant response. I asked Emma what the message of the film was, and she said, "Cars turn into giant robots and beat up bad guys. So... I guess they're good?"

Exactly. By teaching standards, the film failed.

Prison Break suffers from a different affliction: literal overkill. Some of my old college roommates were intensely hooked into this show, but, from what I watched of it, it seemed like any teaching value Prison Break had was lost in the series' depiction of violence and overall corruption.

If you're going to send a message, it helps not to hide it behind a giant robot or a dead body.