Paul Elliott Johnson awarded the Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association's Outstanding Article of the Year Award
The Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association awarded Assistant Professor Paul Elliott Johnson their award for Outstanding Article of the Year, for his essay “Walter White(ness) Lashes Out: Breaking Bad and Male Victimage,” which appears in 2017’s first issue of Critical Studies in Media Communication. Drawing on critical and popular receptions of the show, the essay argues that Breaking Bad offered a politically and socially acceptable pathway for audiences to maintain their investments in toxic, white masculinity against significant political and economic upheaval, the election of Barack Obama president and the 2008 financial crisis, respectively. Whether critics were liberals, conservatives or centrists, they tended to figure Breaking Bad as a universal human narrative, rather than a particular vehicle for critiquing American culture’s noxious affinity for masculine violence. Johnson’s reading points to the resilience of white masculinity’s claiming to victimhood, rather than hegemony, in American society.