announcement & Sopranos reaction post

Sep 07, 2013 12:58

A) General announcement that my internet at home has been down/will be down for a couple of days, and now that I am on a public connection LJ is being even more temperamental than usual, so if I miss comments or notifications IT'S NOT YOU IT'S ME.

B) I did, however, finish my write-up of S3 of The Sopranos. As always, please no spoilers!

I was surprised to find myself taken aback by the brutal misogyny displayed throughout the season. Surprised because I know, rationally, that people this violent, living in this particular cultural and religious tradition, are really not going to be ~honorable and ~above cruelty. That's ridiculous. But it was still jarring. I give the show a lot of credit for how the behavior was contextualized with a lot of the issues around spectra of control. T's friend idealizes his mother, you're the queen, nothing's too good for you blah blah, in a way that's clearly depersonalized. Ralphie's murder of the stripper, explicitly stated as being because she challenged his manhood, is received by most mobsters as a territory dispute - and even Tony's chafing at the bit to take it more seriously isn't positioned as being about righteousness, so much as his increasingly volatile emotional state. Christopher pressures Adrianna to quit her job, which she clearly doesn't want to do, because he wants her to be dependent on him. (Like, the scene where he comes home with a bag of designer shoes that aren't her size - she couldn't walk in them if she wanted to; she'd be effectively barefoot in his kitchen.) Meadow's boyfriend clearly doesn't deserve the racism Tony throws at him, but that has nothing to do with him being a particularly nice person - he's also maddeningly, calmly creepy in using his father's threat of a restraining order to make Meadow choose between him and her roommate, and at the hint of classist disapproval of her from his own father he throws her overboard (in the library, where she seriously can't argue back at his "it's not you, it's just this thing that's INTRINSICALLY WRONG WITH YOU" breakup speech).

Melfi is quickly becoming as much of a favorite as Tony is for me. In a lot of ways, she's a good deal more self-destructive and irrational than Tony - Tony, after all, came from a place with very little to lose, and he's as accustomed as one can be to the fact that his whole life is built on sand. It's less explicit, why Melfi is so charmed by Tony. Presumably she's feeling a little destabilized with her son out of the house and separated from her husband; maybe the promise of stability by assimilation wasn't all it's cracked up to be and she decides to say eff it.

I think if the show aired today it would be very popular to say that THE RITURRRZZZZ were so awful TO HER by showing her sexual assault. But violent crime is a thing that happens and it's a thing that was happening a lot in the area at the time; people don't become untouchable and invisible if they experience it, nor should we try to make that be the case in fiction. The rape is not in any way eroticized, and choreographed and shot to really highlight the competing survival instincts to fight back and to avoid escalation. Moreover, I was really impressed with the nastiness of the fallout. Melfi's husband is a passive-aggressive, controlling asshole about the whole thing - it's not concern for HER welfare, it's anger that HIS woman was attacked and therefore HIS pride is injured. He lectures her about working late (if she'd been home making dinner, this never would have happened, is his implication); he goes over her head to the police even over her express wishes; he turns it into an opportunity to hector her about treating Tony even though Tony had nothing to do with it.

And, well, Melfi's response isn't always pretty, which also is presented in a refreshingly non-judgmental way. When the law lets her down she becomes more dependent on this relationship with Tony that he doesn't even know anything about. At the same time, she gets irritable and judgmental toward Gloria - Gloria is a messy, vulnerable, professional Italian-American woman and therefore reminds Melfi of her own vulnerabilities. And because Melfi's (understandably) over-valuing Tony's potential as a protector and distancing herself from Gloria's problems, she completely misses that getting involved with Tony is another expression of Gloria's suicidal impulses.

Gloria is - forgive me - a glorious deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, who existed before it was even named. Tony thinks he's attracted to her as a breath of fresh air in his life, though this is picked apart well before the relationship really starts to unravel. Gloria tries to be someone's MPDG because she wants to bury herself in a persona until she disappears into it completely.

Tony's....I don't want to say descent, because that implies he was on some kind of moral high ground before, which, lol....slide into violence that's personal (rather than business-related) made a lot of sense, in a way that wasn't excused but wasn't like "oh, he's a totally irredeemable monster now," either. Executing Pussy at the end of last season was an entanglement of business and emotion, and then Livia's death freed him up not to stop worrying about his mother, but to start really admitting and emotionally experiencing (rather than merely acknowledging) the issues he's had with her all along. So he claims to have beaten his last goombah, he allows Gloria to bait him into violence. And he actually hits AJ, at which everyone looks genuinely surprised - ie, this isn't a pattern, he's escalating and taking it out on the child. And I think he's projecting onto AJ similarly to Melfi is to Gloria in some ways? He's mad that AJ isn't taking what Tony sees as a way out because that means Tony might, at some point, have had a choice and not taken it.

I listened to Michael Imperioli (Christopher) do the audio commentary for the episode he wrote and there's some very cool insight into his character and the other characters, and some sincere and generous commentary about his fellow cast members, and some really moving discussion about his past career as a writer and his dreams for the future, and...then he goes off on a tangent and starts giving pasta tips, AS IS THE WAY OF OUR PEOPLE.

This entry was originally posted at Leave a comment here, or there using OpenID.

feminism, mental health, sexual assault, the sopranos

Previous post Next post