Natural selection issue 2

The Soapranos
When David Letterman spoke to his CBS boss where Tony was driving at night, while The Wizard Les on the phone during a segment on his of Oz song ‘You’re out of the woods, you’re out of the show, they discussed a distributor, which woods’ was playing, but he wasn’t – he ended up out dumped CBS’s programming and then picked it up of his windshield after crashing into a truck. As her again after a few persuasive phone calls from his obsession with Tony grows, she realizes she’s ‘living executives. Les joked ‘yeah, you know, we called up in a moral never-never land’ with her patient; ‘I’m some guys from New Jersey’. ‘Oh terrific’ says Dave, afraid of what he might tell me, but somehow I can’t ‘you broke some legs, I love that, I love that.’1 stop myself from wanting to hear it.’ Dr. Kupferberg suggests that like the ‘love’ of ‘roller coasters’ and Cut to HBO’s Original Programming about original ‘scary movies’ Jennifer wants ‘to experience the gangsters, O.G.’s, and you have the TV show about thrill of being terrified, without the consequences.’ those ‘guys’ from New Jersey called The Sopranos. Realizing the consequences of saying nothing to Tony, Currently screening its fifth series in the U.S. with she confronts him demanding ‘how many more people a sixth and final series in the wings, the show is the have to die because of your personal growth?’9 creation of New Jersey raised, former psychotherapy patient, Italian American, David Chase. The ‘germ’2 of Tony’s ancestors like Dr. Melfi’s, practically come the show is Tony Soprano’s psychoanalytic treatment from the same part of ‘the boot’ near Naples, they’ve with his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi; the code of inherited a matriarchal culture, Tony, thinks his mother would’ve been happy if they’d hooked up. After an attempt on his life, Tony meets a Federal Agent, Tony has two families. As ‘acting boss of the who points out they also have ‘shared heritage’ since DiMeo family, New Jersey’s most powerful criminal their ‘ancestors, hail from the same sunny peninsula’. organization’, he’s ‘the motherfucking fucking one The ‘Fed’, plays him a taped conversation. Tony hears who calls the shots.’3 Within his personal family, his uncle Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano, enquire of Tony’s the power dynamics are different. When considering mother Livia in her nursing home. ‘He must have got disciplinary action for their daughter Meadow, who under your collar?’ Livia responds ‘He’s been seeing trashes her grandmother Livia’s house during a party, a psychiatrist!’ As a result of breaking the code of he tells his wife Carmela ‘Let’s not overplay our hand silence, they agree that Corrado Junior must ‘act,’10 – if she figures out we’re powerless, we’re fucked.’4 or whack Tony. Dr. Melfi was right about Livia.
Meadow reveals she ‘can’t talk to’ her ‘dad either. He’s Despite his mother and uncle’s misgivings about not a Nazi. He’s a tough guy, an executive type. He therapy, Tony informs his crew about it. His runs his own business, he’s good at giving orders, consigliere, Silvio feels that ‘this thing of ours,’ it’s which scares people and makes him attractive better if we could admit to each other that these are for some’5. For her, ‘family feels like an emotional painful, stressful times, but it’ll never happen.’ Tony’s teakettle about to explode, my gene pools got so much doubts resurface at Dr. Melfi’s office, ‘self-knowledge anger… how can I not be damaged, people from these where has it got me now. I’m sorry I don’t wanna do unhappy family environments end up taking drugs this any more.’ He goes in and out of therapy, telling Dr. Melfi ‘what I really want is to direct my power and anger against the people who deserve it in my life.’11 She’s right, Tony’s 3pm Tuesday sessions with Dr Melfi are usually punctuated by explosions of anger While Tony may be unaware of the workings of his and or lust. As much as he ‘admires the strong silent unconscious mind, he is conscious that in the gangland type of man like Gary Cooper’, these masculine wars of the underworld when ‘there’s a power vacuum role models make it ‘impossible’ for him ‘to talk to at the top’, it leads to ‘sadomasochistic… jockeying… a psychiatrist’ as desirable as Dr. Melfi. He ‘resents’ for power’12. For Christopher Moltisanti, one of Tony’s Dr. Melfi for making him ‘feel like a victim.’7 ‘I got the crew, ‘this is Scarface, final scene, say hello to my little world by the balls and I can’t stop feeling like I’m a friend.’ Of course in Tony’s eyes they’re all ‘soldiers fucken loser! You ask how I’m feeling, I tell you how wanting to preserve honour.’ Even his late dad was I’m feeling and now you’re gonna torture me with it!’ ‘a tough guy who ran his own crew.’13 As for Uncle Tony simply isn’t one of those ‘clear-headed, happy Junior, his ‘ol’ man was a major prick, he’d slap you wanderers’. Dr Melfi asks ‘who made you feel like a loser, your mother? Your parents made it impossible When Anthony Junior visits his grandmother Livia, feeling that life has lost its meaning, her words to Initially, Tony sees Dr. Melfi for his anxiety attacks, him are ‘don’t expect happiness, it’s all a big nothing.’ which cause him to black out and lose control. It’s Carmela once told Livia to ‘quit this victim role… I’m a condition he has in common with his late father a mother you know the power you have!’ However he Johnny Boy and son Anthony Junior. Dr. Melfi’s been wonders out loud to his parents ‘death just shows prescribing Prozac and Lithium for Tony and alcohol the absurdity of life. Why were we born?’ Carmela for herself. She once had a dream, recollected during informs him ‘it’s because of Adam and Eve.’ Tony her own therapy session with Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, later confides in Dr. Melfi ‘that the kid may be onto asks ‘do you know that I love you?’23 ‘Sometimes we’re all hypocrites,’ she replies. In her video journal for college, she confesses ‘we all have a dark side and a light side… We all have demons and we all make Like traditional food served up at Nuovo Vesuvio, Tony’s favourite restaurant, run by his childhood friend Artie Bucco, The Sopranos serves up a ‘tantalizing mixture’25 of what Dr. Kupferberg would call ‘our childhood fascination with danger,’ and with a ‘hint’ of Coppola’s Godfather and Scorsese’s Goodfellas, ‘this dish is to die for.’ Spiro Kalantzis, is an artist who loves a good film
about the mob. He once caught himself watching
The Sopranos in a white singlet and crucifix eating
pasta, with an espresso. Madonn.’
“CBS With Les”. The David Letterman Show, CBS, 2004 Gabbard, Glen O. The Psychology of The Sopranos: Love, Death, Desire and Betrayal in America’s Favorite Gangster Family. Basic Books, 2002 3, 24. “Tony”. Above: Tony Soprano and gang. Season one The Sopranos. Image
courtesy of Bottom: The Soprano family at a funeral.
Season one The Sopranos. Image courtesy of
4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17, 23. The Sopranos. HBO Original Programming, Season One, 1999; and Season Two, 2000.
something,’ but he blames his son’s existentialist, 5, 6, 16, 24. Meadow cam 1 and 5. adolescent angst on the ‘fucken Internet.’15 According to Meadow, her ‘mom’ is ‘surrounded by lots 11. “Season Four Recap”. of expensive shit, afraid to admit that she’s miserable because her husband cheats,’ and he’s ‘about to go off like a volcano.’16 Carmela though, sees marriage as a 12. Whitebook, J. “Tony’s Treatment Prospects”. Slate, 2001. ‘holy sacrament,’ a ‘duty to god.’ At one point, she
encourages Tony to ‘start therapy’ again because they ‘haven’t had sex’ for a while.17 However, after receiving 14. “Corrado Junior’s Will”. a phone call from Tony’s former goomah, or mistress, Carmela’s blood boils, and she confronts him: ‘Maybe you pass out because you’re guilty over something. 18. “Carmela”. Maybe the fact you stick your dick in anything with 19, 22. Gabbard, Glen O. “The Real Reason”. Slate, 2002. http:// Analysing the show on Slate’s website, with his psychiatric colleagues, Glen O. Gabbard writes that, for Tony, ‘Jennifer and Carmela represent the original 20. “Episode 59”. bête noire of the female gender, i.e., Livia… Motivated by revenge…Tony must destroy the therapy in the same way that he must destroy the marriage,’ if he is 21. “Episode 49”. to be ‘triumphant… against his internalized mother.’19 In the words of the late Johnny Boy’s goomah, ‘There’s no chemical solution to a spiritual problem.’20 22. Machiavelli, Niccolo. Il Principe. 1513. The Prince. Translated Carmela separates from Tony, spurred on by her ‘fantasizing’ about Furio Giunta: ‘He looks at me like 23. Tzu, Sun. The Art Of War. Translated by Thomas Cleary. I’m beautiful.’21 Furio, who was briefly a member of Shambhala Pocket Classics, Boston, 1991.
Tony’s crew, before his premature return to Naples, 25. Nuovo Vesuvio commercial. Sitting alone in his kitchen at night, nursing a Machiavellian debate about whether it’s ‘better to be loved than feared,’22 Tony sees Meadow at the fridge. ‘Everything I do, I do for you and your brother,’ he


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