The unveiling of statues depicting Breaking Bad characters Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico last month was always going to stir some controversy, and it seems the state’s conservatives have finally got around to letting their feelings known.
The 500-pound sculptures were revealed on 30 July in a ceremony attended by Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller, along with Cranston, Paul and the show’s creator Vince Gilligan, who had a few words to say about the duo’s reception.
“In all seriousness, no doubt some folks are going to say, ‘Wow, just what our city needed.’ And I get that. I see two of the finest actors America has ever produced. I see them, in character, as two larger-than-life tragic figures, cautionary tales.”
Now, conservative talk radio host Eddy Aragon and Republican state representative Rod Montoya are just a couple of right-wing figures condemning the works.
“I’m glad New Mexico got the business, but really?” Montoya recently told Fox News. “We’re going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?”
“It’s not the type of recognition we want for the city of Albuquerque, or for our state,” Aragon added on his show, noting that “what you saw on ‘Breaking Bad’ should be a documentary, honestly. I think, really, that is the reality in New Mexico. We try to say it’s fictional, but that is the reality… we’ve joked that [Breaking Bad] should be on PBS. That is, unfortunately, the reality.”
Now, we’re no experts on the New Mexico meth business, but it’s not hard to see why some residents might be disappointed their state’s most famous cultural exports are responsible for propping up one of the least ethical criminal enterprises in television history.
Aragon previously expressed outrage at the state’s decision to take down a statue of New Mexico’s first Spanish governor, Juan de Oñate. The controversial conquistador was responsible for the 1599 Acoma Massacre, in which 800–1000 Ácoma native Americans were killed.
“Now we have brand-new statues,” Aragon said. “Now we’re putting fictional characters out in front. We have Jesse Pinkman and, of course, Heisenberg, and we have now erected statues and our progressive mayor from the city of Albuquerque has stood behind them. We’re funding those, so it’s OK to go get rid of real historical figures and now, somehow it’s even better, to [have] fictional, drug-dealing figures.”
While debates around public statues don’t look to be ending any time soon, a couple of “beloved” fictional characters are some of the less offensive figures to be immortalised in bronze. Then again, this is coming from a country whose most popular public sculptures include Paddington Bear and Mary Poppins, so maybe the Republicans have a point.