Category Archives: Prompt 4- Pop Culture Profundity

Blog Council Pop Culture Profundity


Great job this week! Rachel, Robbie, Ben, and Jordi really enjoyed discussing the posts.

First, some compliments:

  • Good job taking in the feedback from last week by improving your titles and generating some really great discussions through your comments
  • Great job adding multimedia to your blog posts
  • Blogs this week were engaging and did a great job of generating conversation
  • Overall, really creative use of examples from pop-culture and how they intersect with our class discussions

Now, some feedback and food for thought:

  • We thought that the class did a really good job of writing about topics that interested them and this showed. However, we think that posts could have benefited with a more clear connection to the class throughout the blog post (as opposed to only at the end). We think this could have been accomplished with use of a thesis statement at the introduction.
  • We were hoping for a broader selection of prompt topics by the class: lots of people posted about TV shows, but  no one wrote about music or books. Try to view some of your classmates posts before creating your own so we generate a diverse range of topics in the future.
  • The posts this week generated some really interesting discussion on plot-spoilers: the ethics of plot spoiling, when is it ok or not ok to discuss a plot line. What do you guys think about the ethics of plot spoiling? Consider tv shows vs. movies, Dramas vs Comedies.

Wall of Fame:

Our favorite  posts:

 

  • Our favorite titles:

 

Our favorite use of multimedia:

 

Most engaging comments:

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Breaking Bad Ethics: A moral implosion


Are people innately ethical or unethical? Or are people’s ethics swayed by the situation they find themselves in?

Lets look at Walter White and Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad and Better Caul Saul to answer the question.

Better Call Saul is a new spin-off to the very popular Breaking Bad series aired on AMC. Vince Gilligan’s new hit is the prequel to the Breaking Bad series that details the life of Saul Goodman before meeting Walter White. For those of you who haven’t watched the original series and are planning to, I will try not to spoil it for you by providing only a brief overview. The main character is Walter White, (known as Heisenberg) a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given only 2 years to live. In a conversation with his wife’s brother-in-law who is a DEA agent, Walter White learns about the money involved in the drug world during a bust. Deciding he has nothing to lose and wanting to leave money behind for his handicapped son, wife, and newborn baby – he embarks on a career of drugs and crime. He uses his chemistry background to create and sell the finest crystal meth. The series tracks Walter White as he transforms from a regular chemistry schoolteacher into a ruthless kingpin in the drug trade. Walter White ends up hiring “Saul Goodman” as his lawyer who advises him and helps him launder money. Saul Goodman is a crooked criminal lawyer who is in on the drug ring, putting his own life at risk for the money. The prequel highlights Saul Goodman’s career as a lawyer before meeting Walter.

Walter White

Walter White – “I have Lived under the threat of death.. because of that I’ve made choices, I alone should suffer the consequences of those choices”.

I think the reason many of us were so intrigued by Breaking Bad was because of the transformation of Walter White into Heisenberg. The series unraveled a family man with values into a notorious drug dealer. As a professor and scholar, he followed consequentialism, weighing the consequences of his actions. However, he considered himself a dead man and had nothing to lose. The negative consequences did not overrule his family’s future welfare. But what prompted this moral breakdown? Was Walter White always unethical? Or did the situation he found himself force him to make unethical choices out of desperation to support his family? I think we can agree that Walter White was a man of values at the start of the film; no one could have expected this from him. In life and death situations, like the one Walter found himself in, do ethical principles change? What would you have done? Even good people like Walter become desperate, feel like they have nothing to lose, and do unthinkable things. But is the fear of death a good enough excuse? Once Walter decided to do this, was there no return? He had countless opportunities to put the drug dealer lifestyle in his past but decided not to, spiraling down a path of pure immorality. Does the first unethical choice justify the next unethical choice?

Saul Goodman

On the other hand there is Saul Goodman. Equally as unethical as Walter White himself, however, the new series gives us a look at his life before teaming up with him. Better Call Saul gives us a better look at this crooked lawyer and how he came about. Even though it seems that he too, like Walter, went down the path of immorality out of the situation he found himself in. During the first episodes, it shows that he was broke and barely had any money to cover his expenses. He teams up with a couple of skateboarders who are trying to scam people by being hit by cars. Did his financial situation force him to do this out of desperation? Perhaps, but in a later episode we learn that Saul has done this since he was a kid. They called him “Slippin Jimmy” because he would collect insurance claims from purposely slipping on ice. Saul has never been ethical but rather has abused the law for his personal gain. Can someone like Saul ever become ethical? Or has his rap sheet altered his perception of what is good and what is bad? Does it just take one unethical choice to send people like Saul and Walter down a path of immorality? If you break a moral code once, what will stop you from doing it again?

Breaking Lehman


“I’m not in the meth business. I’m in the empire business.” Those are the words of a former high school chemistry teacher pushed towards the brink of insanity by his reckless, competitive nature. Walter White, star of AMC’s “Breaking Bad”, transformed from a mild-mannered family man to a ruthless killer in front of the nation’s eyes from 2008-2013. I was late in adopting the Breaking Bad craze that affected so many, but realized my error after watching just one episode and promptly binge-watched the rest.

While a meth cook and incredibly powerful CEO may not appear to have much in common, I could not help but compare Walt to former Lehman Brothers CEO, Dick Fuld. In 2006, Fuld was named America’s top chief executive officer of the private sector. Just three years later CNBC named him the worst American CEO of all time. Curiously enough, that is very similar to the amount of time it took Walt to become public enemy number one. On the surface, both men justified their work by saying they were acting in the best interest of someone else- Walt for his family, Fuld for his shareholders. But in retrospect, it is easy to see that was not the case. Instead, they were motivated by greed and power. A mere business was not enough; they needed an empire.

As I began drawing connections between two men, I noticed the situations shared more than just their protagonists-turned-antagonists in common. In addition to the family/shareholder justification, almost all the major characters come into play. Hank and the entire DEA mirror the persistent yet ineffective legal system that failed to prevent crime. Walter Jr. represents younger generations that blindly trusted the people in power that eventually hurt them. Gus Fring symbolizes a heartless corporation looking to maximize returns while disregarding morality. While I have no reason to believe creator Vince Gilligan was trying to comment on the financial collapse with his hit television show, the similarities are undeniable. Here are a few clips from YouTube that help illustrate my point and showcase two men, Walter White and Dick Fuld, and their corruption by money and power:

Featured image from Huffington Post and American Thinker

Holy Smoke


In thinking about the themes our class has discussed thus far, I was reminded of the main plot line of one of my favorite movies, The Boondock Saints. The film follows religious twin Irish brothers who are fired from their job after backing one another up in an altercation they did not start. The following morning, they turn themselves into the police for their part in a separate bar fight, which resulted in the death of two Russian mobsters in an act of self-defense. Sick of being oppressed by criminals, and in response to a request from God, they embark on a mission to rid Boston of “wicked men so that the innocent may flourish” (Boondock Saints).   Continue reading Holy Smoke

How much would you risk to have it all?


rules

A common trait of those who rise to the top in any craft or profession is a ruthless competitiveness, a desire to win, a desire to be the best. These men and women’s unbelievable competitive drive, be it from hatred of losing, love of winning, fear of failure, or another motive, is the trait that brings them to such great heights and also often causes them to fall as spectacularly as they rose. I was surprised to see only one other post about House of Cards, whose 3rd season was released on Netflex this week.

*There will be no spoiler alerts in this post*

Continue reading How much would you risk to have it all?

Family & Friends or Public?


Grey’s Anatomy is a renowned American medical drama series that premieres on ABC is about various challenges the characters face in terms of personal and medical decisions. The encounters the characters face test their moral beliefs and values as they choose between the lively hood of their patients and career to become surgeons. The ongoing show focuses around a few major characters, but today I will be talking about four of them: Meredith Grey, Derek Shepard, Richard Webber, and Alex Karev. Dr. Webber is the Chief of Surgery at Seattle Grace Hospital along with Dr. Shepard as an attending who oversees the residents, Dr. Grey and Dr. Karev, who have become close friends over the course of their residency. This show displays numerous moments of internal conflict based on the oath they have sworn to as doctors.

SPOILER ALERT:

Continue reading Family & Friends or Public?

Go Play Princess: The Gamergate Controversy


In August 2014, female game developer Zoe Quinn released a game called Depression Quest. In spite of receiving critical acclaim, the game was met with backlash from gamers around the world. To make matters worse, a rumor that Quinn had an affair with Nathan Grayson, a video game journalist for the blog site Kotaku surfaced. Grayson was accused of trading positive coverage of female game developer Zoe Quinn’s game for the opportunity to sleep with her. Quinn has since reported receiving death threats and harassment. Continue reading Go Play Princess: The Gamergate Controversy

“You’re Fired!”


Donald Trump graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and went to New York City where he created The Trump Organization. Developed by one of the most renowned businessmen in the world, The Trump Organization has established an elite brand through real estate development, property management, sales and marketing, hotel collection, golf course portfolio, residential and commercial brokerage, publications, clothing and entertainment. One of the most well known catch phrases by Donald Trump is “You’re Fired!” When teams face Trump in the boardroom on The Apprentice television show, it is no surprise that the environment is cut throat. Donald Trump and The Trump Organization maintain a vast amount of power in the business world. Consequently, they face fierce competition within markets and rely on the success of each of their divisions to stay on top.  Continue reading “You’re Fired!”

World’s Best Boss


If there’s one person in this world who understands business, it is Michael Scott. Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrell, is the Regional Manager of a paper company named Dunder Mifflin in NBC’s hit show, The Office. For those of you who have seen the show, you may be wondering how in the world Michael Scott understands business. For those of you who have never seen the show,  Michael is probably the best procrastinator of all time. Think of the laziest college student you know and multiply it by ten. He absolutely despises doing work. Once a month, Michael is tasked with validating quarterly reports by signing the documents. He procrastinates all day by prank calling one of his employees and fighting one of his employees at the karate dojo. At the end of the day, the rest of his employees must forge the signature for him.

Continue reading World’s Best Boss

Government 101: Ron Swanson


“Why government matters? It doesn’t” – Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson is the Director or the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, in the TV Show Parks and Recreation. In a perfect world you probably wouldn’t expect a government official to say that the work he is doing is basically pointless and useless. Well, Ron Swanson is not your ordinary government official… He is a hard-core libertarian who thinks that anything government related should be privatized and he is not afraid of expressing his demise against the government by quotes like “It’s never too early to learn that the government is a greedy piglet that suckles on a taxpayer’s teet until they have sore, chapped nipples”. Yet, as a government official his paycheck comes directly from taxpayer’s money, and he still continues his job.   Continue reading Government 101: Ron Swanson