Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Scott McLemee on 'The Sopranos'

Marxist cultural critic Scott McLemee has written a fine piece about the hit gangster TV series, The Sopranos. An extract:

'[C.L.R.] James treats the cinematic gangsters of yesteryear as radical individualists – their crimes, however violent, being a kind of Romantic refusal of social authority. But the extraordinary power of “The Sopranos” has often come from its portrayal of an almost seamless continuum between normality and monstrosity. Perhaps the most emblematic moment in this regard came in the episode entitled “College,” early in show’s first year. We watch Tony, the proud and loving father, take his firstborn, Meadow, off to spend a day at the campus of one of her prospective colleges. Along the way, he notices a mobster who had informed to the government and gone into the witness protection program. Tony tracks the man down and strangles him to death.

At the college he sees an inscription from Hawthorne that reads, “No man ... can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one may be true.” Earlier, we have seen Tony answer Meadow’s question about whether he is a member of the Mafia by admitting that, well, he does make a little money from illegal gambling, but no, he isn’t a gangster. So the quotation from Hawthorne points to one source of Tony’s constant anxiety. But it also underscores part of the audience’s experience – an ambivalence that only grows more intense as “The Sopranos” unfolds.

For we are no more clear than Tony is which of his faces is “true.” To put it another way, all of them are. He really is a loving father and a good breadwinner (and no worse a husband, for all the compulsive philandering, than many) as well as a violent sociopath. The different sides of his life, while seemingly distinct, keep bleeding into one another.'

Labels: ,

2 Comments:

At 4:17 pm, Anonymous Louis Proyect said...

My take on The Sopranos
http://www.swans.com/library/art10/lproy20.html

 
At 12:11 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Great article Louis, cheers.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home