It’s All In The Wardrobe, Really.

Why do bad guys have cooler outfits?

I think I heard this on WTF with Marc Maron, he was interviewing somebody and his guest’s kid had asked her that. Kathryn Hahn. That’s the guest.

But it’s a great question, think about it.

Picture, if you will, Yoda. And if you won’t, don’t picture anything, jerk.

But, so Yoda, if you did picture him, now picture Darth Vader. Who’s got the cooler outfit?

GI Joe vs Cobra? I mean, Snake Eyes is working pretty hard to raise the average on the good side, but shit, man, Destro.

Walter White in Season 1, vs Heisenberg Season 4 (that’s as far as I am, no spoilers!)? No contest.

Batman may be the only exception to this rule. But that’s because he’s like a bad guy who does good.

But why? On the podcast they kinda brushed past it, but I found myself doing some dishwashing philosophizing: part of it, I think, is that forbidden allure that evil has. By its nature it’s tempting, the Dark Side, as they say, is more seductive.

I also think it reflects the external/internal dichotomy of morality. Bad Guys are defined by their external goals; satellites made of diamonds, elder wands, domination of various geographic magnitudes. Even the most cerebral and disciplined of villains, when it comes right down to it, are only in it for the money. Good guys follow a more inward path – their goals are more personal, internal. Justice, and Freedom, the unification of a room through a quality, urine-free rug.

It goes without saying that for anybody who’s pursuing such ideals, one’s appearance will be a secondary priority, at best.

Ah, that was fun. Thinking about things.

Let me tell you why I love Breaking Bad. I’m a sucker for a good villain, as well as a good back story. That’s what the whole show is (or seems to be at the end of season 4) – one giant back story showing choice by logical choice how someone gets to be the bad guy. How complicated it all is, how context can gray up what normally would be a black & white sort of deal.

It all comes down to choice in the end. Even when it’s about survival, it’s still a choice.

I think a lot about this, the nuts and bolts of morality. (Radiolab did a great episode on this) At least I used to, these days my cogitizing leans more towards remembering what day it is, and how to afford both preschool and donuts.

It’s a question of default settings, maybe.

It hit home for me the other night – I work nights, so I don’t often get to be part of bedtime. So we lay there, me and mama with a little pajama’d man fidgeting the last of the day’s energy out. It was quiet and calm, we looked at the flashlight on the ceiling, we snuggled, we read. The look of utter peace and contentment on his face touched me way down in the sub-basement of the feels. Only someone sheltered and loved and cared for and cared about could ever get to a place like that. And as right, and as natural as it feels, it only exists because we make it exist. Because of choices we made. As tragic as it is (and it is so, so, tragic) there’s no guarantee for a child to have that. It only happens through planning and effort and will.

But it does exist for my son. And obviously, when my son contemplates cooking meth to save his family, I won’t be there helping him choose the path of the Jedi. But even though he may have no clear memory of it, there was a time, when everything mattered, when reality was being nailed down in his neural pathways, there was a time when he was entirely safe and unconditionally loved. And I hold hope that someone who’s world is built on such a foundation can successfully avoid becoming the biggest meth kingpin in the Southwestern United States.

This would, of course mean that his ensembles would be inferior. But as a guy who shaves once or twice a week, I can live with this.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “It’s All In The Wardrobe, Really.

  1. I hope and trust – as I guess you also do – that, given these well laid neural pathways your son’s track won’t go anywhere near Meth City. In fact, his sense of right might even make him dress so rightfully that he would stand out like the Lone Ranger on a Tokyo side street 🙂

  2. Ach, we can hope. Of course, I hoped he’d let me change his diaper the other day instead of watching him gimp walk around the zoo smelling like a homeless person. If I’m lucky there’ s difference enough between a spent diaper and a life of crime. If I’m lucky.
    Thanks for the comment!

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