October 1, 2015

"We try to get people more aware of the importance of having disabled characters on television, and changing the mind-set of how you see disability."

"We’re trying to bring normality to what it is, and bringing truthful and honest characters to the screen."

Said R.J. Mitte, who played Walt Jr. on "Breaking Bad," in a lecture here at the University of Wisconsin last night. Mitte has cerebral palsy.

Here's a scene with him from the show (complaining about veggie bacon).

ADDED: Video taken out because it wasn't just the scene but some other comic stuff that isn't good enough. Watch the first 35 seconds to see the relevant part, here.

30 comments:

rhhardin said...

They've had lame TV plots forever.

The Drill SGT said...

But, but, what about Captain Hook? Or LT Dan?

Ambrose said...

I used to enjoy "Ironside."

The Drill SGT said...

Forgot about Ironside, which I liked. There are/were a number of cop shows with blind or otherwise disabled actors demonstrating how they could solve crimes

rhhardin said...

Look up "the craw" on youtube. (Get Smart)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Girls has that fat chick...

Quaestor said...

Not craw, CRAW!

Quaestor said...

So what's the Disability of the Week this week?

Ann Althouse said...

"They've had lame TV plots forever."

I take it you didn't watch "Breaking Bad."

Walt Jr. just had a disability and was a member of the family. His disability wasn't a plot line. I can't remember it being a plot point at all. His casting was an example of a disabled person being put in a role that would typically go to a non disabled person, and it worked.

J. Farmer said...

When I was a kid in the early 1980s, the television show The Facts of Life had a small character with cerebral palsy, Geri Jewell. I remember having the same reaction to her as RJ Mitte's character on Breaking Bad: "damn, that voice is distracting!"

Expat(ish) said...

@Ann, I'd say that Walt/Jr's disability was definitely part of the, er, gravity that Walt felt was pulling him towards doing anything to support his family.

So, to me, an important part of the plot.

-XC

PS - I will note that when I go to less developed countries one thing I do see is a lot of disability, perhaps because it wasn't caught/corrected in time, perhaps because of the amazing traffic accident rates. But a lot more visible limp, use of crutches, damaged upper bodies, etc.

chuck said...

We already have the mentally handicapped news teams at CNN, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, and PBS . That seems sufficient to me.

rhhardin said...

60s cartoon, two monkeys in the zoo watching TV, "This stuff is aimed at the intelligence of a rHinoceros."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Walt taking on some bullies who were making fun of his son was the first glimpse of the bad-ass he was to become.

Anonymous said...

"Video taken out because it wasn't just the scene but some other comic stuff that isn't good enough."

So audience don't watch disabled characters not because they are disabled, because the "comic stuff that isn't good enough."

Disability-phobic?

Big Mike said...

Wasn't there a prime time show with an actor who had Downs? I mean the actor had Doens, didn't just portray a character with Downs.

And don't we still routinely abort babies with Downs?

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Disability is not normal. It also manifests in diverse forms. While it can be circumstantially tolerated, there should be no effort to discourage people from striving.

Big Mike:

Yeah, that public outreach campaign did not work. The attacks on Sarah Palin and her disabled child were appalling. The social justice warriors are infamous for acting in extremes, while remaining blissfully ignorant of the diverse and progressive moral hazards they create. #CecileTheAbortionist welcomes their lobbying efforts.

Tom B said...

Walt Jr's physical disability paled in comparison to his crippling obsession with all aspects of breakfast.

MadisonMan said...

Wasn't there a prime time show with an actor who had Downs? I mean the actor had Doens, didn't just portray a character with Downs.

Glee had two -- Sue's sister and Becky, the cheerleader.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Expat(ish) said...
@Ann, I'd say that Walt/Jr's disability was definitely part of the, er, gravity that Walt felt was pulling him towards doing anything to support his family.


Seconded.

Beldar said...

Mitte was terrific in "Breaking Bad." He had the advantage of playing the only character in the series who was consistently decent and loving. Mitte's and his character's disability was never a crucial plot element, but rather were part of the "ordinary life"-like detail that made this series simultaneously so real and surreal.

Chris Arabia said...

Beldar - nice insight. Tom B - that made me chuckle, well done. Expatish - nice insight.

jr565 said...

Big Mike wrote:
Wasn't there a prime time show with an actor who had Downs? I mean the actor had Doens, didn't just portray a character with Downs.

And don't we still routinely abort babies with Downs?

I think you mean Chris Burke? He played Corky on the show Life Goes On. I wonder how those who would abort someone with Downs Syndrome feel when he earns more than they'll ever earn in their lives? And he's retarded. What are they doing with their lives?

Chuck said...

I was an early-adopting, huge, avid, enthusiastic fan of Breaking Bad.

But one of the very few unsatisfying things about the show is that they never really developed Walt Jr. as a character. Given that the whole ethos of the show was the shocking way that characters developed, it seems even more odd that Walt Jr. remained the same.

And it's totally a writing thing; not in the slightest a knock on R.J., who was a wonderful actor for the role.

I suppose that there wasn't a lot of room for Walt Jr., because it was so critical to develop the faux-father/son relationship between Walter and Jesse Pinkman. (And that was done so successfully, too.)

MadisonMan said...

What are they doing with their lives?

Commenting on blog posts?

Big Mike said...

MadMan wins the thread.

Carnifex said...

Timmy and Jimmy say Hi. Well, Jimmy does... Timmy says TIMMEH!

truth speaker said...

Just how much MORE do we need to be told this?

traditionalguy said...

My childhood idol Perry Mason got a name change and a wheel chair to become Ironsides.

His brain and voice were just as strong as a Disabled lawyer. He just needed help walking around over the obstacles.

That is exactly true of MS folks. They are delightful people but they walk slow and need assistance getting in and out of cars. That is no big deal. We all need to slow down and enjoy their company.