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August 17, 2008


"burned, Nazi style..."

Hmm, I can't agree to that, although I certainly share you hatred of things like 'Hostel', and your analysis of the psychological effects of such things on the viewer, which I would say is to anaesthetise the natural response to brutality and sadism. It makes the viewer, through passivity, become an accomplice in the torture.

"why America seems so nuts these days about torture"

Orders from the top. The White House memos authorising torture, the need to rationalise what has been going on in Abu Graib etc. Things like '24' are used to normalise torture.

Art does have a legitimate function to explore disturbing subjects and confront the stuff of nightmares. There has long been a flirtation with evil within the bohemian intellectual fin-de-siecle mindset, a desire to explore the dark side and an egotistical view that social/moral norms are for the commoners and don't apply to them.

I don't know what should be done about it. Censorship usually backfires. There are obscenity laws, but they're rarely used, due to the precedent of the 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' case in the sixties.

Anyway, I like the Sopranos...

The Nazi thing was a joke (honest)

As for Tony Soprano and co. The only decent thing about the ridiculous series was the soundtrack. Both the character and the actor are so utterly loathesome. Everytime he appeared on the screen I felt sick. And then switched it off.

Jewcy summed it up best

"Tony and his crew idealize the manly virtues: loyalty, stoicism, and problem solving through brute force. Their favorite hang-outs—the pork store and the strip club—are shrines to the sacred, macho sins of gluttony and lust. And that whole manly institution implodes spectacularly over six seasons.

The Sopranos shows how we have embraced the worst parts of what it means to be a man and jettisoned the most useful. Tony has a crew, sure, just like in the old days, but this crew has built nothing. It’s all pretend, a bunch of no-show jobs. This is the jarring realization as the show ends. There is nothing to marvel at. Not only is there nothing left, there was nothing to begin with. There is no real friendship. There is no solid marriage. There is no decent father. There is no esplanade. There is no church.

In the end, the show is a funeral service for our messed-up brand of masculinity. This is why the program is ultimately optimistic. Clearly, this way didn’t work. Let’s move on and try something else"


Eugh. Gimme Gladiator anyday!

There's no accounting for taste, although I guess Russell Crow looks better in (and out of) a toga.

What this analysis doesn't seem to grasp is that the Sopranos is not intended to be a modern, New Jersey version of the Waltons.

The drama comes from the foibles of the characters, the instability of not truly being able to trust anyone, in a world ruled by violence. Tony Soprano knows the reason the others laugh at his jokes is because of fear. Whenever a viewer starts to fall for his charm (such as it is), Tony will do something mean, vicious and destructive, reminding you that this is not a man you can relax with. One of the few 'straight' characters is the psychiatrist, who finds Tony, as you do, repugnant.

What makes it so good is that you cannot be sure how the characters will react in a given situation, and for this reason it reminds me of Bertold Brecht's theatre. Brecht wanted the audience to watch his plays with the same mentality as they would watch a boxing match, in other words, judging and criticising the decisions and actions of the characters, seeing the result as something dependent on these decisions, rather than a foregone (fated) conclusion. I think the Sopranos comes close to this.

Hmm. I sure didn't think it was supposed to be modern. I got what it was aimed at being. Honestly there was nothing charming about that man. I prefer the character Gladiator because he represents the antithesis of Tony in terms of manliness. And Gladiator wasn't supposed to be modern.

The characters were all SO pathetic. Painfully pathetic creatures ill at ease with themselves to the point of obsession. It isn't the unpredictability of them. But the total opposite.

Honestly what I said in the post best summarises that idiotic programme from my pov - ludicrous, privileged, shallow, Western clichés with their female equivalents in Desperate Housewives and Sex & the City.

I'd rather force feed myself snails than watch it. Did i mention how much i hate it!? ;)

Agree about Grand Theft Auto. They're making billions with young people thinking shooting a copper in the head is entertainment. Moral trash.

You're comparing apples and oranges. Gladiator is a standard movie heroic good guy; decent, honourable, good-looking, motivated by that classic cliche; his beloved wife and kid got murdered and he wants payback.

In Gladiator, you're either a good guy or a bad guy, and it's clear who's who. Joachim Phoenix is allowed no redeeming qualities at all, he's a pantomime villain.

It's an entertaining movie, which makes its audience dream of being in Ancient Rome; if female, to be swept up in Russell's bulging muscles; if male, to be slashing away at combatants in the gladiatorial arena.

The characters in the Sopranos are all bad guys, some more than others, some more likable, funnier etc, but nevertheless dangerous, ruthless people that you'd do well to steer clear of.

You're trying to make it an issue of manliness. Tony is indeed an alpha-male, but he's not intended as a role model, nor is he glamourised, as any number of shots of him in his vest and boxer shorts will attest to. 'Well-adjusted' characters do not make for great drama. Is Hamlet 'well-adjusted'? Or Richard III?

To quote the bard: methinks she doth protest too much... I reckon you've got a crush on Tony Soprano, but can't admit it!

Yeah this is my hate list Chas and Grand Theft Auto is on it!

It is an issue of manliness. this is all about machismo as entertainment at the end of the day. Its nothing more than that. So Gladiator is a good parallel.

Part of the reason i included Sopranos here was because it fits the whole idea of ego. Brutality by proxy, nihilism by proxy and narcissism by proxy. Yeuch.

I think Tony Soprano is all of those and a pantomime villain to boot. I prefer Maximus not because he is muscle bound but because he is bound by a few redeeming macho qualities, love of family being one, honour, respect being connected to that in equal amounts of good and bad. Yummy. All the things Tony's lot also want and allude to but fall far short of and try too hard to get. They're like grumpy spoiled silly teenagers brandishing all that as threats.

I can relate to non well adjusted characters in some contexts. Flawed or disturbed also! Man on Fire is one that springs to mind. But no as a rule I can't relate to plain ego and narcisim etc. Hence the list of wholly crappy
characters and films. And least of all Tony Soprano. Largely because he is not just a run of the mill gutbucket villain. But because he is
pathetic and I think Jewcy kind of nails it overall - so I wont dwell. But pathetic sure ain't sexy or interesting. I also hate Goodfellas and Joe Pesci types for all the same reasons.

As the Bard was mentioned, let me say that he, by making Richard III deformed, had us look into his soul, which was crippled as well. Characters like these, while being portrayed as macho, are actually the opposite. Even tony wouldn't have two babies wacked!

Oh I don't know Chas :D Tony was that far into suiting his ego for the sake of the bravado if the task required it I'm sure he would have. I always thought there was a point with the Bard's stuff. A moral lesson or a clever point to make about humans. The Sopranos were all point...less. The crap ending kind of made that clear :)

I am enjoying the Tudors though. The series. God am i ever. It's great TV.

"The crap ending kind of made that clear "

Americans never know when to quit. It 'jumped the shark' in the last series, but up until then, I liked it. Still, enough of that. In terms of the subject of the post, The Sopranos is not the worst offender.

You're only enjoying the Tudors because of the
gay guy who plays 'enry the 8fth, what's his name?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers. It's funny how arsey blokes get over this guy playing 'enry.


But all the girlies like him. Gay or not :D

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