By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun
12:48 PM EDT, April 4, 2014
Fans of "Breaking Bad" know that chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin Walter White made a number of uh, morally questionable decisions.
But a Johns Hopkins political science professor has decided to analyze White's performance in his original calling, as a teacher.
It turns out that in addition to being a liar, manipulator, murderer and drug pusher, Mr. White is not a very good teacher, professor Samuel Chambers argues in the spring issue of the journal "Theory & Event."
But his arch-rival Gustavo "Gus" Fring is a good teacher. At least when it comes to Jesse Pinkman, the former pupil who became Walter White's righthand man.
"Walt stultifies Jesse in the manner of the traditional school teacher," Chambers said in an interview. Mr. White belittles Jesse and frequently reinforces his intellectual superiority to the younger man.
"Gus is a really, scary nasty drug kingpin, but he says to Jesse, 'You can do it," Chamber said. "He puts faith in Jesse and tells him he can trust himself."
According to Chambers' analysis, Gus "emancipates" Jesse, giving him the confidence to trust his abilities and knowledge. Chambers said the dynamics among Walt, Jesse and Gus mirrors the pedagogical theory laid out by French philopher Jacques Ranciere.
Chambers, who teaches a course called "The Cultural Politics of Television," said that the richly imagined "Breaking Bad," which recently ended its five-year run on AMC, holds a big draw for scholars of television.
He said his peers in academia have mixed views on television.
"Academics as a generalizing rule are usually ones who eschew TV," he said. "My general position on TV is the vast vast majority of what's on it is not very good, but a small amount of it is excellent."
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