Commemorating fictional characters with a big, honkin’ statue is always a good idea. A statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha from Bewitched stands proudly, celebrating the famed city’s history of burning women alive. Gotham City built a 100-foot statue of Batman, which now protects the city from crime ever since the Dent Act failed to outlaw all wrongdoing in the late 2000s. And, of course, there’s that RoboCop in Detroit, which is just great. “No notes,” say children.
But our bronze statue du jour sits in Albuquerque, New Mexico, bearing the image of two of the city’s most infamous meth chefs, Jesse Pinkman and Walter White, the twitchy and growly stars of Breaking Bad. The 600-pound statues offer an ironic reminder of the economic benefits the show and its spin-off, Better Call Saul, have brought the city over the last 14 years. We don’t get to pick our heroes, and sometimes they’re the stars of a television show that argues that some people are just fucking evil and there’s not much you can do about it.
Of course, not everyone is happy about this testament to meth chemistry and distribution. Conservative talk radio host Eddy Aragon and Republican state representative Rod Montoya finally got around to condemning the statue on Fox News last night, offering stirring counterprogramming to the Better Call Saul finale. Aragon argued that Breaking Bad is actually more of a “documentary” of life in Albuquerque, where pizzas bake on roofs in the hot sun and a string of ricin-related explosions plague the area.
“It’s not the type of recognition we want for the city of Albuquerque, or for our state,” Aragon said. “I think 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, the Jesse Pinkman, the Heisenbergs, the man who is running everything, Gus [Fring], and the way that they’re bringing it in from Mexico is exactly the way that it is right now, so we’ve joked that it should be on PBS.”
So now that Aragon has offered vague sentiments that portray the state as a firey, drug-infested hellhole, state representative Rod Montoya also criticized Albuquerque for “going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?”
Look, it’s not difficult to see their logic. Even Vince Gilligan knew this would happen. Ahead of the statue reveal, he said, “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.” He’s right. But wouldn’t they have a stronger argument if they were honest about why they didn’t like the statues? Like, we know the problem with them: Like all bronze statues, they are ugly.