Sunday, November 29, 2009
The Philosophical Side of The Sopranos
My husband Mowgli (not his real name) and I have been on vacation since last Friday, and I had grand ambitions for this time, detailed in a long list that I plan to keep as a reminder of my folly. To be fair, I did roast a chicken and make a veggie pot pie, and we did visit Lincoln's home in Springfield. But -- citizenship quiz studying? Not once. Attempt dosas with new recipe from kind cyberfriend? Didn't happen.
And writing? Wasn't even on the list. I didn't think it needed to be. I thought I'd spring out of bed and start pecking away until Mowgli snatched the laptop from my flying fingers. I did my usual blog posts, but that's all I did -- the minimum. Unless you count the plethora of Facebook updates on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, which, to make myself feel better, I do.
What I've been doing instead of writing is so weird, it makes me squirm to admit it publicly. I've been watching season 5 of the Sopranos. I haven't loved it as much as I've heard some do -- the violence prevents that -- but I've liked it enough to look forward to watching one or two episodes before the day gets rolling. In fact, I watched one this morning, and it spawned today's topic. Lucky thing, too, 'cause honestly, I had nary a post idea when I got up this morning.
It was Episode 58, "Sentimental Education," and about 10 minutes in Tony B., who's been trying to go straight after 18 years in prison, compares being an immigrant to being in prison. The rest of the episode underscores this theme, with pointed remarks about Koreans and dogs, and Carmella's affair failing because of her lover's prejudice against women like her, i.e., mobsters' wives. Toward the end of the hour, Tony B. beats up his Korean business partner, destroying his best chance at achieving his goal of going straight. Tony Soprano responds to this news by saying, "It's tough to do business with outsiders."
Granted, this is a show that delights in making cartoons of ethnic stereotypes, but it did make me think about the three-way battle between heritage and fate and free will. To what extent are we all bound by our heritage, the shapes of our noses and cheekbones, our last names?
What do you think, readers? How have you experienced these strictures? Are they good, bad, or somewhere in between?