Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 111

Becoming the One Who Knocks 107 the desirability o f fam e and celebrity Status is extrem ely w idespread and thus approxim ates, in a M ertonian sen se, a universal su ccess goal. Secondly, the m eans to achieve fam e and celebrity Status are unequally distributed across the social structure. B y im plication, this disjuncture b etw een on the one hand, the pressure to achieve fam e and personal celebration and, on the other hand, the lack o f structural opportunities to do so, creates strain for those seek in g a reconciliation o f this m eans/goals gap. (3) Although W alter desires veneration as a response to his labor, he ultimately fails to achieve this aim as a high school teacher and a poorly paid carwash clerk; therefore, feelings o f inadequacy in the workplace greatly exacerbate his social strain. Menial labor is consistently presented as an emasculating experience throughout the series, and, as a result, entices W alter to cope through criminal channels. The pilot begins by delineating W alter’s typical workday. After a full day o f teaching uninterested high school students, W alter is forced to work overtime at his second job, and, as a result, is late to his own birthday party. After an employee suddenly quits the carwash, W alter’s boss, Bodgan, asks W alter to wipe down cars outsides. Walter, indubitably embarrassed by this demeaning job, begs his boss to let him remain running the register: “Bodgan no, we talked about this” (“Pilot”). Bodgan, however, refüses W alter’s request and forces him to wipe down the Corvette o f a Student that previously disrespected him in dass. The workplace offen denies certain hegemonic masculine ideals, such as, independence, control and dominance. Many working d ass men find this work experience humiliating, because they are forced to engage in work relations that threaten their intemalized notions o f masculinity (Messerschmidt, Masculinities 127). The humiliation inherent in the W alter’s work experience is amplified by Gilligan’s use o f irony via the Corvette, as W alter’s teenage Student displays a higher Status than him through his acquisition o f an exorbitant sports car. Not willing to succumb to the degradation o f wiping down his students’ cars, W alter decides to begin cooking methamphetamine. As a teacher and a carwash clerk, W alter perceives him self as a “dead man . . . artificially alive. Just marking time” (“Gray M atter”). However, W alter believes he can transform his life through chemistry: “Chemistry is the