Breaking Bad Power Point

Report
FIELD, CLOTHING AND IDENTITY IN THE TV
SERIES BREAKING BAD
Donovan Quan
Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
Session IV: Field and Habitus.
Mini-conference: Bourdieu in Practice
Sunday March 24, 2013
Eastern Sociological Association
THE ROLE OF CLOTHING IN PERFORMING IDENTITY
•
Gregory Stone (1981: 143) in “Appearance and the Self” speaks of identity being
situated, and being an acknowledgement of one’s role and “his participation or
membership in social relations.”
•
Stone explains that the way we present ourselves in front of others changes from one
situation to another.
• Clothing in a sense is the “mask” we wear to portray a certain perception that we
want to convey to other people.
•
In the popular TV series “Breaking Bad” Mr. White, Jesse Pinkman, Tuco Salamanca
and Gus Fring each play very different roles. Choice of clothing defines identity and
role for each one of these characters.
TUCO, MR. WHITE AND JESSE
GUS FRING, OWNER OF LOS POLLOS HERMANOS
BOURDIEU HELPS US BETTER UNDERSTAND
HOW ROLES AND IDENTITIES ARE SITUATED
•
Power and status are features of society
• However, they must be created and upheld by people
•
Social norms are diffused to people through “habitus”
•
Bourdieu defines habitus as the internalization of a cultural arbitrary
• It is a process of “inculcation”
• Takes the form of a cognitive structure, and a system of values
• Perpetuates itself through practices
•
People reproduce the prevailing norms and they generally fall into their place.
JESSE REPRESENTS THE “STREET LEVEL” METH
DEALER WHILE GUS IS A DRUG KINGPIN
CLOTHING IS A PRACTICE
•
Clothing it is a form of symbolic capital
•
It can be seen as cultural capital
• Comprise one’s tastes, dispositions and social orientations
• Indicates ones economic and social position
•
Fields are the networks one is implicated in: a middle class neighborhood, a prison, a
certain kind of workplace, a country club.
•
It is within the fields of everyday life that one engages in practices.
•
In the TV series Breaking Bad we see how moving from one field to another changes a
person. This is conveyed in a direct manner through clothing.
WALTER WHITE
WALTER WHITE
•
The actor Bryan Cranston, who Walter White is normally dressed as a high school teacher
• His outfit consists of chino trousers and a button down dress shirt; what is sometimes
is commonly taken to be an academic/teacher style.
•
This look is consistent with what a high-school chemistry teacher working a second job at
the car wash would be able to afford.
•
When he takes on the persona of his alter-ego “Mr. Heisenberg,” Walter White dons a
black fedora (a Pork Pie Hat to be exact), which completely changes the way he presents
himself to the other characters in the show.
High
School
Teacher
Part- time
Drug
Maker
Drug
Lord
Drug
Kingpin
IDENTITY TRANSITIONS ARE EXPRESSED
THROUGH MR. WHITE’S CLOTHING STYLE
•
Walter has also abandoned middle class norms but at first only secretly.
•
Unlike Jesse who can re-enter a higher social strata than Walter, if he agrees to comply
with his parents’ dictates, Walter is at the verge of falling into the lower/working class
even though he is highly educated and has all his life subscribed to middle class values.
•
He is desperately trying to look as if he is still living a middle class life but he is maxed out
on his credit and is losing his grip, cancer being the last straw
•
He holds on to the symbols of a middle class existence: an appropriate job, a higher
education, a house in the suburbs, a sensible car, college plans for his children.
•
As Mr. White moves into the drug world we see a gradual change in his appearance. It is
only when he begins to embrace the identity that we see him change his appearance
completely. At first all he wants is to use the money to buy his middle class life, so he is
motivated not to adopt a new look.
JESSE PINKMAN
JESSE PINKMAN’S STYLE
•
Although the character Jesse Pinkman is a couple of years removed from high school, he
still dresses as a typical suburban teenager who’s trying to imitate the rappers and
gangsters he sees on TV.
•
Jesse’s wardrobe usually consists of baggy jeans, hoodies with elaborate patterns,
windbreakers, and a colorful arrays of t-shirts.
•
The hip-hop culture clearly has a strong influence in Jesse’s choice of clothing and
manner of speech.
•
The body language and manner in which Jesse presents himself to the viewers and other
characters in the show, is that of a drug abuser and someone who didn’t amount to
anything in life; even though we, the viewers, later learned that he came from a well off
upper middle-class family.
EVOLUTION AND CHANGE IN JESSE’S STYLE
•
Jesse's involvement in the drug world or
field at a higher level causes him to adopt a
modified appearance.
•
Jesse adopts the drug dealer look but he is
probably at first viewed just as another
suburban white kid trying to look
dangerous. Eventually he starts to upgrade
his look with better brands and a more
confident demeanor but always remains
within this same field (that is the white
suburban drug gangster who may or may
not really be dangerous).
•
When Jesse has a psychological
breakdown, and begins using drugs heavily
he wears the same clothing but displays a
disheveled appearance and a disregard for
himself
JESSE’S CAR ALSO POSITIONS HIM OUTSIDE OF
THE FIELD TO WHICH HE BELONGS
JESSE PINKMAN AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME
INVERSIONS AND CONTRADICTIONS
EXPRESSED THROUGH JESSE’S CLOTHING
STYLE
•
Jesse is an oxymoron, because he’s the smartest dumb person you’ll ever met.
•
His clothing belies the street-smart and life experience he gains through the years as a
crystal-meth cooker and dealer.
•
Jesse rejects cultural capital. The collegiate path his parents would expect for him is traded for
an identification with uneducated African American who would be seen by his community as
others or outsiders.
•
In a more postmodern context it is not so simple. Hip hop artists can be successful
entrepreneurs and are in fact embraced by a lot of mainstream society perhaps because their
values run counter to mainstream norms.
•
Middle class suburban youth may rebel again the cultural capital their parents try to pass on to
them through an identification with Black Hip Hop culture while at the same time retaining a lot
of their white middle class privileges.
•
In Jesse's case he really has rejected middle class norms and has indeed become a part of the
real drug culture that hip hop artists are only pretending to identify with.
TUCO SALAMANCA
TUCO’S SALAMANCA’S STYLE
•
Tuco is shown wearing flamboyant silky dress shirts with exotic patterns to go along with his
mundane colored dress pants.
•
Tuco looks like he’s ready for a night out partying along the club-strip of South Beach, Miami.
•
There’s an underlining meaning behind Tuco’s fashion sense: the writers of the show put
forward the sociopathic nature of Tuco through his clothing.
•
The crazy and wild design pattern on his dress shirts represents his homicidal tendencies,
while the mundane dress pant represent his more calm-minded business side.
• One minute he’s a calm drug-dealing businessman, the next minute he snaps and
kills his own henchman for speaking up for him.
•
Tuco Salamanca’s clothing is reminiscent of an infamous villain from the Batman’s lore, TwoFace. Except in this case Tuco could be considered the horizontal “Two-Face” where the split
between his two personalities occurs right about the waist line, as opposed to evenly down the
middle.
TUCO’S HABITUS AND FIELD IS CLEAR AND
DIRECT
•
•
Tuco is of course different from Walter and Jesse in that he probably came from the lower class
in Mexico and he aspired to be what to him appeared powerful and desirable: a drug lord.
•
Tuco lacks cultural capital.
•
He is not rebelling against middle class norms. He is an outsider.
•
He is not embracing a hip hop gangster “look” which emulates this world, he is embracing
the real and brutal world of the Mexican drug lord in which he has risen.
Tuco traded the miserable existence of the laborer for the chance of rising in the drug world
and gaining economic capital. When he wears one or another shirt he wears it proudly.
•
Tuco shows us that he really feels he has arrived and he is someone at the top of his
field.
•
He is not trying to compete with a preppy or elite world of modest tastes, he is embracing
a world where he announces definitely that he is a powerful but corrupt man.
GUSAVO “GUS” FRING
GUS FRING’S STYLE
•
Gus Fring has two distinct appearances, one of which is an everyday run-of-the-mill fast
food restaurant manager and the other being a savvy calm and collected businessman
•
His plain appearance at work is similar to Mr. White, consisting of a chino trouser, a
button down dress shirt and a tie. He is clearly front line retail management
• Even the car that he chosen to drive (a Volvo S70) is practical and inconspicuous.
•
When he’s engaged with his other business endeavor, which involves high level
distribution of crystal meth, he could be seen in an tailored two-piece business suit.
•
Later in the show we see that he lives in an upscale neighborhood but this income would
appear to those around to originate from his restaurant chain and other businesses
•
Little is known about his social class and how he become involved in the drug world. He
came from Chile to Mexico and then to the USA.
GUSTAVO “GUS” FRING

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