Culture Rover

#4 - Bubba Soprano

How to cope with the long winter of Sopranos haitus? Quit cold turkey like Chris-teh-fa? Quit cold gabagool like Tony? Go on the lam to "a rat infested motel in Elvis country"? No. Surf the web for commentary, speculation, and opinion.

On Slate's TV Club, Gerald Shargel -- the lawyer who once represented John Gotti -- made the good point that in the Sopranos, we are always experiencing "Mafia as metaphor." It's true -- the Sopranos is as much about psychoanalysis, bourgeois malaise, the state of the United States, the state of the state of New Jersey, ethnicity and sexuality and race, among other topics, as the show is about organized crime.

In the spirit of "Mafia as metaphor," Shargel offered a comparison of Tony Soprano to George W. Bush. Shargel pointed to the issues of leadership and its discontents that haunted Tony toward the end of season five, and that currently grip the Bush administration in crisis.

But Tony isn't Dubya. He's Clinton. Remember, after all, that the Sopranos began when Clinton was still president. Tony shares many of Clinton's baby-boomer male traits: never fulfilled emotionally, an unquenchable gluttonous appetite, philanderer galore, a mess psychologically but pretty sharp when it comes to power plays and politics. Tony is not an aristocratic airhead; he's a complex schmuck who demands our fascination -- even our allegiances -- even as he disgusts us. Charisma comes in strange forms.

15 June 2004

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