Impactful words by Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) from the hit series Breaking Bad. Uttering words that are meant to legitimize his status as a dangerous entity in the series.

The end of season four in the series left me feeling conflicted, in the sense that, they took the main protagonist of the story and slowly turned him into a merciless murderer, which made me want to love him and hate him simultaneously.

Movies and Television sometimes blur the line of morality in their content, creating a sympathetic protagonist, but who has more or less the same moral compass as the antagonist.

For Instance
They give an antagonist a simple character motivation, like revenge, throughout a film or a series. Moreover, they use this to show the pettiness and lack of morality from the ‘villain’, in order to make us feel disdain for them.

But in the case of a protagonist, they give him or her the exact same motive(s), but illustrate it in an intricate and nuanced manner that portrays them as compassionate, 3 dimensional characters.

An Example of This Juxtaposition

That was Helmut Zemo (played by Daniel Brühl) from Captain America: Civil War. In the story, The Avengers were inadvertently responsible for the death of his wife, child and father.

Although it was not their intention, the avenger’s actions directly lead to his family’s death. Therefore, to retaliate, he concocted a plan that would ensure that the Avengers fought among one another and broke up the team.

That was John Wick (Played by Keanu Reeves), from the movie, John Wick. Following his wife’s death and funeral, he received a puppy that his wife had organized that he gets after her death.

John uses the puppy as a coping mechanism to deal with his wife’s death. But in a cruel turn of events, the son of the man he’s talking to in the video steals his car and kills his dog. John goes on a rampage, and kills 84 people to get revenge for his dog.

Image result for picture of John wick's dogImage from: http://bit.ly/2qkh3zB

Cute dog, right? But does it really justify the deaths of so many people? Does it mean that John Wick should be forgiven for all the murders he commits in the movie because of his ‘tragic’ loss? And if so, why then are we supposed to hate Zemo as a villain, even though his motives are based on the loss of his entire family?

Maybe I’m reading too much into this. I mean it’s cool to see an action movie whereby the hero kills a lot of people in spectacular fashion. But what does it say about us as a society if we cheer on the brutal murder of many people.

I understand that it’s not real, but are we so desensitized to violence and murder that we don’t consider that every character in a film has a life, even the ones that only appear for a few seconds.

I hope I didn’t ruin your movie going experience, but think about this the next time you watch an action packed gun fight in a movie. Or ask yourself, who’s doing the most damage.

 

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