The Labour Of Sisyphus  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

All good things come to an end I guess. Not only has The Oil Drum almost shut its doors but Breaking Bad has but 2 episodes left, after reaching "next level harrowing" in the last episode, Ozymandias.

Breaking Bad can be viewed as a commentary on modern life in many different ways. If you are a liberal, you might look at it as a criticism of the American health care system (or lack of one), with a humble high school teacher being faced with a choice between getting proper treatment for his newly diagnosed cancer (and the subsequent bankruptcy of his family) and simply waiting to die - and instead choosing to "break bad" and become a drug lord - the best option available (in the rest of the developed world we have universal healthcare and people don't have the same choice to make).

A more left wing view of it would be that it is a demonstration of the moral depths that you need to sink to in order to be (financially) successful in a capitalist society.

I guess a Christian might be able to make a case that it shows what happens when you are full of pride, and that Walt should have accepted charity from his rich friends early on rather than taking the course he chose.

And if you want to get a bit more metaphysical you could view the evolution of Walt and his alter ego Heisenberg as a meditation on the dual nature of reality.

As I watched Walt roll his remaining barrel of money across the desert (re-enacting the labour of Sisyphus in his apparently doomed attempts to leave a nest egg for his family) I wondered if perhaps Breaking Bad could be a metaphor for America's struggle with its oil addiction (I doubt Vince Gilligan and co would agree, but if you look hard enough into a mirror you can see whatever you want).

Like Walt, America has resorted to ever increasing levels of violence (against both other people and the environment) in order to try and generate the level of wealth required to support its dependents (aka citizens) in future.

Like Walt, America may find that achieving this goal is increasingly elusive...

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