August 27, 2012

Why Didn’t You Watch Breaking Bad?

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What is the issue?

Did you see Breaking Bad last night? No? Oh man, it was so suspenseful and terrifying and there was a huge cliffhanger at the end — how could you miss the new episode of Breaking Bad? How? Would you miss your baby’s birth? Would you miss your wedding? If Captain Trips broke out, and you were hemorrhaging blood from every orifice, would you miss an appointment with the only doctor administering the cure? What worthless activity prevented your eyes from being directed at the television during the new episode of Breaking Bad? Do you not absorb televisual narrative in a way that is fulfilling due to some devastating neurological disorder? Is your mind not a machine designed solely to receive and interpret serialized television? Well? Is it?

Oh, you had work! You had to man the register at Popeye’s, I see! As if that precludes watching Breaking Bad, as if being “employed” means you have “less time” to “waste” by watching TV. Humanity’s most talented entertainment professionals collectively spew forth content, instilling maximum stimulation in viewers, and you don’t have time for it because you’re working? The purpose of our lives, in case you didn’t know, is to be the empty cups into which media is poured, not to waste effort on some “job.” We only have maybe 70 years to soak in the mass media entertainment, and then we die. We die! And our only consolation is that we die with memories of all the wonderful episodes of TV we watched, as our identities dissolve into rotting gray mush.

By not being caught up on Breaking Bad, your value as a human being is diminished. Yes, you’re a bad person! Without cultural enrichment, you deny your humanity! Philistine! Neanderthal! Mindless beast! There should be a law requiring all citizens to view important television shows, so we can talk about it and each feel validated as a member of the community. Not watching Breaking Bad betrays a profound moral and intellectual failing, so you should be imprisoned. No, executed. Your hands and feet should be tied to two horses galloping in opposite direction for your crime. You should be dipped in acid, set on fire, and then fed to hungry wolves.

As you watch television, brain activity shifts from the left hemisphere (where information is broken into its individual parts and analyzed critically) to the right hemisphere (where information is uncritically received as a whole). When that happens, you react emotionally instead of logically, hence your heart racing during a tense scene in Breaking Bad or crying during a sad scene in Breaking Bad. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, hooking you biologically on the very important entertainment being viewed. This passive mental state is the ideal mode of human experience. Why would you walk around the Earth, looking at real things and real people, placing unnecessary pressure on your brain? Not watching TV, god forbid, triggers opiate withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, frustration, and depression. It’s probably why you look so frustrated right now; you haven’t been getting enough of your audiovisual medicine, friend.

The average American watches four and a half hours of television, and you can’t manage one hour of the taut Emmy award winning thriller Breaking Bad? The average American spends nine beautiful years over the course of his/her life watching TV, and you probably won’t even manage one. God, you probably spent that hour performing some idiotic non-media-consumption activity like taking orders for chicken tenders or handing people boxes full of chicken tenders or cooking chicken tenders. I can hardly look at you, I’m so ashamed of your life choices.

I’m going to be honest: your ignorance of important recent Breaking Bad plot points like that one character shooting that other character and Walter manipulating that one character into doing that thing has placed our friendship in jeopardy and caused me to seriously question your commitment to quality television viewing. If I can’t discuss Breaking Bad with you, then you’re irrelevant to me, a dull meat puppet, a vacant creature to which I have no connection like a fish or a paramecium. Have you seen the new episode of Louie? Of Game of Thrones? Of <Bunheads? No? Do you even watch TV at all? What are we supposed to talk about then?

So, uh, it’s cloudy today I guess. You like food at all? I think food’s pretty great for sustenance, but, um, water’s also good for when I’m thirsty. Sometimes when I need to get to a location, I walk, but other times, I drive a car. Do you do the same thing? Oh, you ride a bike, I forgot. This is stimulating. I feel we are connecting over shared experiences now. I like you. TC mark

image – Breaking Bad

Brad Pike

Brad Pike is a writer and performer in Chicago. His writing has been featured on The Sixth Wall, Thought Catalog, The …

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