BADA BING! BADA BOOM!

Oct 28

yagotaproblem.jpgThe Sopranos set off a war among the Fortunato Family, as I suspect it did with Italian-Americans across the nation.

On the one side were those who saw it as a good show, well written, well acted, well photographed (we’ll get to that later). They watched it every week. You got a problem with that?

Well, yes, yes, I do. And so did my father, and so did one of my brothers, although he ended up joining the enemy (more about that later, too, although the two “laters” are inextricably connected.)

Okay, you figured out that I’m sick of seeing Italians portrayed as goons, who practically eat with their feet (as one reviewer put it), and say things like “fugedaboutit” without the quotation marks. Yes, I am tired of that, although no longer confused as I was when I was younger.

The Italian men I grew up with, my father, dignified but with a love of puns, gentle Uncle Joey, jolly Uncle Ralph, my grandfathers: one handsome and dapper, the other known in the neighborhood for making and taking in large quantities of vino, were nothing like the guys I saw in movies. And the women, my shy mother, my fun Aunt Loretta, even my super extroverted Aunt Rosie (She was Senior Miss New York State in 1998!) would never have had anyone whacked. No matter how cranky they got.

I’d say that I’ve led a sheltered life, but that’s not entirely true. For one thing, I’ve known actual Mafia types, one in particular who wanted me to help him write a book about his adventures . . . 

And they were, well, adventurous.

But because I’d like to keep my blog, as well as my life, that’s all I’ll say about that. Except for this: I asked him about Tony’s mother in The Sopranos. What Italian woman would want to hurt her son, much less get him knocked off, I wanted to know? My informant gave me one of those “Geez where have you been” looks (there were many of these looks in the course of our conversations) and summed it up in his two favorite words: “It’s business.”

Ho boy. Well, the book never happened, although the process was very educational for a girl like me. So with the benefit of that experience, I’m not saying that The Sopranos wasn’t accurate. Or that these things — like murder, rape, torture, betrayal, and really bad table manners — don’t happen. It’s just that I’m tired of seeing them happen. Over and over. In practically every movie made in the last two decades

And another thing: Doesn’t anyone have a vocabulary that is not made up entirely of the F word, which yes, I do use once in while for emphasis. But once in a while! Not every f—- sentence. (I’m avoiding use of the actual word here not out of prissiness but because I never know what those pesky search engines will pick up and who will block my blog.)

So the thing is, I could see that The Sopranos was well done, but I felt that experiencing The Godfather movies, which I love, own copies of, and have seen numerous times, was enough already. Besides, The Godfather was operatic, and therefore not as realistic — or frightening  — as the TV shows. Tony Soprano in his bathrobe, eating an English muffin, great as the acting was, put me over the edge.

My brother who lives in the South, and is much more laid back than we Northerners are, didn’t get why I was so upset. And my other brother, who had the same basic problem I had with the show at first (enough violence already!) is a cinematographer, and when he had the opportunity to read a script and actually shoot a few episodes, went over to the other side. Okay, okay, the lighting is gorgeous, but that left my father and I alone together in our anti-Soprano position. For the sake of family unity, my mother took the fifth.

So now I come to the play, God of Carnage, which I saw today at the Arthur Miller Theatre on Broadway. Like The Sopranos, it had murder (of a rodent, but that counts, right?), mayhem (when the masks of civility strip away, they really strip away!) and if not a cast of thousands, an excellent ensemble of four, including Tony Soprano himself, AKA James Gandolfino –— who, by the way, once voiced his own misgivings about the TV show being too violent. Interesting, no?

Watch for my review of the play in the coming days, unless something happens to prevent it. Things happen. If you wonder what I mean by that , check out The Letter You Can’t Refuse at a blog near you. Very near you. Just saying.

SO WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON “THE SOPRANOS?” ART? TRASH? BOTH? LET US KNOW.

One comment

  1. Just delightful.

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