Sympathizing with Storytelling in BREAKING BAD


Today I had the pleasure of presenting a keynote address at the Television Aesthetics conference at University of Kent in the UK, entitled “Television Aesthetics, Videographic Criticism, and the Case of Breaking Bad.” Well, not exactly “at” the conference – my Tuesday flight out of Vermont was so delayed that it prohibited me from getting to England in time to make my talk! So we pivoted to Plan B and I gave a Zoom talk, which went well enough, but it would have been far nicer to actually attend my first in-person academic event in over two years…

As part of my talk, I showed four videos** from my Breaking Bad videographic book, including the debut of my newest video, “Sympathizing with Storytelling in Breaking Bad,” which I made specifically for this conference. The video directly engages with questions around narrative sympathy and character engagement in ways that build on the excellent work of two of the conference hosts at Kent, Murray Smith and Margrethe Bruun Vaage. Given the more academic nature of the conference, the tone of the video skews a bit more scholarly in its approach and tone than many of the other chapters in the project. Let me know what you think!

** The other videos I screened were “Focusing on Hank (& Marie)” to exemplify close visual analysis, “Sounds of Silent Mike” to center on sound, and “Knock About,” which I presented as a predecessor to this new video that offers a distinctly different rhetorical take on similar material. Unfortunately, due to a Zoom glitch, “Sounds of Silent Mike” had the bottom captions cut-off at the conference screening – thus those viewers only saw/heard the clips compiled in the piece and could not read my analytical text. This problem was only revealed in the Q&A, as they thought it was just an experimental compilation of clips of Mike being quiet – I wish I could have had more of a conversation about how that worked for them!

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