Two pieces of news regarding Breaking Bad today. First there will be an opera (not the first Breaking Bad musical). Second Oliver Stone didn’t like the finale. I’ll start with the opera (I have rant-type words for Mr. Stone.). This sounds awesome. The show is operatic by nature. It focuses on intense drama, which then builds to moments of extreme catharsis. The mini-opera (I guess it will only be 3 hours long or something) will be called Breaking Bad – Ozymandias, and it will be produced by One World Symphony. With regards to the goal of the opera Sung Jin Hong had this to say, ““I hope to explore the question that the drama obsessively and hauntingly asked: ‘are we all breaking bad?’”
Let’s follow that perfection up with some really annoying business. This is what Oliver Stone said about the series finale (which I don’t think was perfect, but did a damn good job of doing what the show wanted it to – tie up the loose ends and answer the towering stack of fan questions) keep in mind that he didn’t watch the series or even most of the episode, “Nobody could park his car right then and there and could have a machine gun that could go off perfectly and kill all of the bad guys! It would be a joke. It’s only in the movies that you find this kind of fantasy violence. And that’s infected the American culture; you young people believe all of this shit! Batman and Superman, you’ve lost your minds, and you don ‘t even know it! At least respect violence. I’m not saying don’t show violence, but show it with authenticity.” UGH, right? There are lots of ways to do violence, and they don’t all have to mirror what we see on the news. I mean have you seen Natural Born Killers? Does this mean Stone is disowning that film? Breaking Bad was never a realistic show. Since its inception, the show has taken place in a slightly off version of our world. The magnets, the train, the poison, the exploding Tuco, and the en masse hit all operate outside of our reality. A friend of mine envisioned a conversation someone might have in the Breaking Bad universe. I’ve transcribed it here as a short bit of dialogue.
Friend 1: Did you hear about the chemistry teacher?
Friend 2: Wasn’t he that huge meth kingpin?
Friend 1: Not only that it turned out he was working with the guy who owned all of those fast food places.
Friend 2: Weird.
See what I mean? This show never pretended to be realistic. Oliver Stone is basically saying there is only one way to portray violence (, and by extension one way to make violent media) and that is portraying it “realistically”. He even takes a shot at the comic book movies. It seems Mr. Stone has forgotten what makes movies (and TV sometimes) great. I’ll remind him. It’s the incredible ability to tell a story in many different ways by tapping into all sorts of cultural semiotics. That’s how we can have animated lions portraying a version of Hamlet. Multiple movies about people alone in space (Moon, Gravity, 2001) can say a million different things about what it is to be human. We can even have Batman make an active commentary on the security/surveillance state. It’s not that movies need to show the world as we see it, rather movies have the unique ability to use the imagery of our world to show us something new about it. Movies don’t change lives because they look so real. They change lives because they remind us that there’s important symbolism behind those things that we see every day. Oliver Stone forgot why media is important. Maybe he’ll remember, stop complaining about great art, and get back to making some of his own.