Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 113

Becoming the One Who Knocks 109 correct a previous subordinating social Situation (M esserschm idt, Nine Lives 13). For many men that feel disenfranchised by their position in society, criminality may provide an outlet for reclaiming power and Status. Individuals that engage in criminal activities, especially those associated with Street culture, are inculcated with “a set o f informal rules governing interpersonal public behavior, particularly violence [;]” a socializing process Elijah Anderson defines as the “code o f the Street” (33). Anderson argues that “at the heart o f the code is the issue o f respect— loosely defined as being treated ‘right’ or being granted one’s ‘props’ (or proper dues) or the deference one deserves” (33). Many individuals that are prohibited from the veneration they desire circumvent the institutionalized means for conventional success and appropriate respect and Status through violence. In this sense, the code o f the Street is implemented as a methodology for alleviating strain and alienation effectuated by various social structures that impede an individual’s ambition. The drug trade indubitably reinforces the code o f the Street and constructs a deviant masculinity authenticated by aggression. Fiona Hutton suggests that drug dealing “can be considered as located within a distinct subcultural world o f meaning and interactions, underpinned by the concept o f ‘hegemonic masculinity” (546). These illegal activities, Hutton argues, invent a masculine ideal “stressing toughness, machismo, aggression and smartness. In the cultural setting o f drug dealing, this is the accepted masculine ideal; to be tough, aggressive and smart” (546). Unable to achieve the dominant notions o f conventional masculinity— i.e., wealth, appreciation and eminence— W alter enters the drug trade and embraces deviant constructions o f masculinity that demand Status through violence. Anderson argues that conceptions o f criminal masculinity derive from the “widespread belief that one o f the most effective ways o f gaining respect is to manifest nerve. A man shows nerve by taking another person’s possessions, messing with someone’s woman, throwing the first punch, ‘getting in someone’s face,’ or pulling a trigger” (92). M uch o f Breaking Bad presents W alter with a task o f manifesting such nerve in adveree environments, which, in tum, allow him to reclaim his lost masculinity and find a sense o f gratification by overpowering and outsmarting individuals that maintain a higher Status. In “A Crazy Handful o f Nothin,” for example, the audience witnesses W alter achieve a seemingly orgasmic release after bombing