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And yet after Tony’s shooting and recovery he seems to be the one most in touch with his feminine side (due to Carmela’s ministrations maybe). It occurs to us that the closer the mobsters get to their femininity, the harsher and more bloody the punishments are. Think of the death of Ralphie at Tony’s hands. The punishment meted out takes longer and is far more bloody than any other death at his hands (even Big Pussy is despatched cleanly) and, it could be argued, this is due to the release of his ‘feminine’ side. Ostensibly his rage is due to the deliberate death of Pie O My - their horse - but we know that this outburst has its roots in Ralphie’s beating to death of Tracee. Another expression of cold-bloodedness that maybe finds its roots in a possible ‘feminisation’ of Ralphie. Don’t forget this episode was the one where he extolled the virtues of the Romans (through constantly quoting Gladiator) and especially their version of masculinity.

Could it be that the vulnerability that is exposed through the mobster’s dependance on their women (whether wives or goomahs) brings out the macho in them?

It maybe that Tony is reluctant to release his soprano but to us at least he sems closer to that side of himself than any of the other mobsters.

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Douglas Howard

In this regard, I am reminded of Episode 70: “Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request.” Amidst Tony’s concerns about being “alpha male” in the family after being shot by Uncle Jun—like Ginny Sacrimoni, Tony almost collapses at the wedding—New York and New Jersey members alike condemn Johnny for crying at the wedding “like a woman.” To reassert his masculinity in the family, Tony deliberately picks a fight with his muscular new bodyguard. As much as Tony and the other family members would deny their “sopranos” and live up to these standards of masculinity, the problems that they have, from Tony’s therapy sessions to Christopher’s drug habit, typically stem from a need to express this other repressed side.

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Douglas Howard

I think that Tony did felt guilty here, which is one of the aspects of his character that made him so intriguing to watch. He frequently did feel remorse for the things that he did. (Thinking of Carmela and how she nursed him back to health in Season 6, for example, he was unable to cheat on her with real estate agent Julianna Skiff.) If Tony had no sense of responsibility at all for any of his crimes or transgressions, we might be able to write him off for his immorality or lack of insight. Tony does have a conscience, however, and these moments of guilt suggest that there may be something redeeming about him, something difficult to reconcile with his more vicious behavior as a “racist mobster.”

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Craig O. Stewart

Fascinating survey. I’d be interested to see what a “secular” psychologist would have to say about it…

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Not sure what to make of this. It seems to suggest that men and their appetites are being controlled, not sure by whom, but what is certain is a feeling that men should reclaim that control. And why the red plaits? What does this suggest? The conformity of the tree-kickers could be read as a revolt against the movement that encouraged tree-hugging so that men could get to their roots and embrace nature. Who knows what is in the minds of these advertisers? Frankly we can see no reason not to embrace vegetarianism with a whole-hearted hug in the light of this ad!

The best, funniest and yet most heartbreaking moment has to be when Paulie discovers that the woman he has always adored (like every good Italian American boy) his mother is not all she appears to be and his aunt (who he has always considered to be a bit strange) is his real mother. The confusion that this scene throws up, his real bitterness at a life he now feels has been a sham, the cancer scare that he now has to deal with alone. What a sad and complicated figure he makes. And yet, his perfectly coiffed hairdo, his manicured fingernails and attention to sartorial detail mark him as somebody different from the rest of the mob, more sensitive maybe? The resulting tussle with his sense of betrayal and eventual acceptance of the woman that he once knew as mother is as poignant as any moment in the Sopranos. What will happen to Paulie Walnuts, the man without a goomah or familly? The man that stands out in his crowd.

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Here is an irony. While most other countries have already seen the last episodes of the Sopranos we in England are still waiting. Ireland will probably get these episodes before us - we heard last night that they are airing in Brazil. Why this long wait. Sorry to Douglas for using his column to rant about this but it would be nice if we could comment on this episode. Are we still in the dark ages in Britain? Is it money that dictates our screening schedules? Or, is it just plain mean of Channel 4 to hold onto these episodes as long as possible?

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You are absolutely right, feminism is probably last on Chase’s list of priorities when writing these scenes but they do show a relationship between women (particularly mother and daughter) that replicates how judgemental feminism can be. Who needs men to judge us when we do a really good job on ourselves?

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I believe Tony does feel bad, but he also has a tendency to displace his guilt (e.g., when he learned that his former goomara Gloria committed suicide, he spent the rest of the episode trying to save his other friends). By this point in the third season, Tony has clashed with Meadow over her boyfriend Noah because he is part African American. Tony’s guilt about Leon may be compounded by his guilt about Noah. So when he offers Leon the money, he’s not only attempting to fix the damage he inflicted on Leon but also repair his strained relationship with Meadow. Perhaps that’s why we see him navigating his way through idealized female sculptures? They could represent his beloved daughter.

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Chris Boulton

Thanks for your responses!

On the secular psychology tip, it may interest you to know that Porn Nation publicizes every visit by pointing students to an online “sex survey” so that they might self-diagnose their level of “sexual addiction.” 24,000 undergrads have taken the survey thus far and can check out the entire survey here: http://www.mysexsurvey.com/

Of course, Porn Nation is often sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ. So, after quasi-science establishes the problem, evangelists offer up faith as the solution.

CB