Showing posts with label The Sopranos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Sopranos. Show all posts

Saturday, May 12, 2007

AJ Soprano, mob boss

The Sopranos is now down to four remaining episodes yet unseen, and the speculation about the cognoscenti , given the pending demise of Tony Soprano's reign as Boss, is who might come after him, continue the business, so to speak. It's a slippery slope,
but one wonders if this New Jersey enterprise will stay a Soprano-helmed concern. What about Anthony Jr.?We've already had a taste of AJ acting like a made man a couple of seasons back when he was organizer enormous parties for under aged drinkers; in one scene he and an associate told some guys who got into a party without paying to pay up, and when told to buzz off, kicked the collective of the deadbeats. AJ seems like a young man who only really gets motivated when he's excited about something, whether that means being in love or punishing those who owe him money. Given how unsatisfactory straight life has been for him, he'll find it easy enough to continue the sins of his father as his father continued the sins of his pater familias. It's a big apple tree with very short branches. If AJ became the next boss, after various time spent in the earner's trenches, he would likely find that would inherit more than a business from his Dad; a generation of conniving and resentment comes with the job description.

What Tony has had to contend with since he became boss, more about protecting his position as Boss against various challenges and less about extending the mob's clutches into other scams. But then his is not a business as anyone understands capitalist instinct, that profit and the bottom line matter more than strong senses of entitlement. In the real business life, ventures run on a third of the collective, mendacious vanity of mob culture would go out of business(sans the violence). for all the talk among the bosses and the captains and various members of the crew about being better "earners", grotesquely distorted feelings of entitlement , envy, resentment and a general lack of seeing beyond the demands of their primal wants undermines all efforts to conduct this enterprise like it had a rational purpose. It's fitting, perhaps, since what they make money on are the libidinous appetites of a those willing to pay for access to illegal vices and wares--gambling, prostitution, drugs, boosted dry goods-- and that the disinterested stance needed by a merchant who refrains from sampling their product is not Tony's nor his crew's quality to posess. Dispite a hundred forms of denial,rationalization and excuse making about themselves and what they're doing in The Life, they fall victims to their own wares, gambling, drugs, whoring and the lot, and exist in a perpetual state of impulsive action. What I find riveting here is that the truth of The Life and the unvarnished facts of Tony Soprano's realm is being bluntly exposed. His years of trying to live on both sides of the fence are taking their toll, and it's the truth that he will find unacceptable on any terms other than in madness and death, like Lear.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tony Soprano Becomes King Lear?

The center of the The Sopranos universe is Tony Soprano, enforcing whatever laws of gravity there were in this skewed Americana that kept the players and their agendas in something resembling order. Sheer force of personality, brutality, dry-bone ruthlessness were what it took to maintain this crime empire and to maintain a social hierarchy in which everyone--Christopher, Paulie, Silvio, Carmella-- has an agenda they would pursue to disaster had the wrath of Tony not been their shared constraint. Uneasy , wobbly and self-doubting is the head of this fiefdom ,as all the self knowledge and revelation Tony has learned through therapy hasdecentered his mojo. Where he'd been able to compartmentalize his criminal career, the infidelities, the murders, and family life in square and sealed boxes whose contents and consequences never met, the barriers have collapsed, the actions and the pathologies behind have become irretrievably twined and knotted together, a perfect tangle. Tony is witnessing the world he's been the center of break apart, and he can no longer hold it together.I suspect his rhetorical question to Dr. Melfi regarding what therapeutic results, "IS THIS ALL THERE IS?",will be enlarged in the final four episodes. Tony Soprano, demanding love and loyality while he exerted his will, is soon to have his King Lear scene, alone in the rain, stripping himself of the literal and symbolic vestments depicting an idea of omnipotence he never had.

There are substantial differences between Tony and Shakespeare's delusional Majesty, the key one being that Lear relinquishes his power once he foolishly assumes that he has secured his version of reality , with all avowed loyalties and relations in tact, and that he may indulge his whims to be free of responsibility and merely be revered and adored.Betrayal and calumny are his results, and the cause of disasters, his vanity and failure to realize he's been grossly flattered in the efforts of a daugher and uscrupulous supplicants to rest power from him. The truth is what drives him past the brink and into the rain. Tony does not relinquish power to anyone in contrast, but he wearies of the weight of what he must to do maintain his position, and his refusal to change his behavior in order to change himself is costing him dearly. An old axiom comes to mind, that one cannot think their way into good living, but one can live there way into good thinking.Tony's problem is that he thought he could make his anxieties vanish on the basis of self-knowledge alone.The gathered revelations have gotten thick for him.

All the lies told to him and the lies he told himself are laid bare, and all that awaits is the last brick to fall from the last wall from this shoddily bolstered construction of self delusion. What producer David Chase and his writers come up with by the series is one of the few things to look forward to in this season of dim news and dimmer celebrity hi jinks.