Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Narrative Justice and the Sopranos

I caught this ditty and hope to make it a meme of sorts: How should the Soprano's end? James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation has this to say in Esquire
"That's easy. Everybody should die. It's just like any Shakespearean tragedy -- Macbeth or Hamlet. When everybody has, in a sense, been tainted by evil, it's not feasible to let people live and therefore be redeemed. So what you do is just kill everybody off. Watch a Kurosawa film or go see Curse of the Golden Flower. Tony's got to be the last to die, of course. But they all need to go down in flames -- the kid, the wife, Meadow's fiance -- everybody. Nobody is safe."
Given that Carafano is aligned with an institute devoted to cheerleading our imperial moves into Iraq as well as helping to solidify the term The Long War of the 21st Century as a long-term military strategy, advocating that everyone "should die" who has been "tainted by evil" either proves this guy is A) a true believer or B) does not understand the irony of his off-the-cuff judgment.

So how should the Sopranos end? A question of normative narratives, good guys must beat bad guys, right prevails over wrong, i.e. writing straight from the pen of the Church Lady? Let me say this, I would hope that David Chase and his writers avoid this kind of easy-way-out morality play. The Sopranos has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been about how bad guys always get theirs. For me, if Tony gets killed or crushed it should come from the hands of another mobster like Paulie Walnuts or other crews from New York.

Better yet, I would like to see Tony live. I don't think it will happen. Too many forces have their resentments and are willing to damage an already-damaged man. But I say this since, at moments, The Sopranos has been one of the best critiques of American excess I have seen in years, Like the characters in HBOs Big Love, these characters live well-beyond their means (multiple wives, multiple lovers, etc) in tasteless, suburban McMansions where happiness seemingly never exists but multiple car garages proliferate. And despite their sins, the characters in each of these shows seem steeped in a misery that they could extricate themselves from if only they decided to give up their poor habits and make life choices that simplified their worlds. But, alas, they don't and they continue to struggle with how their good intentions beget miserable consequences.

Indeed, if there is any justice, it would be in the liberation of Dr. Melfi, whose death I fear most of all.

So, how should The Sopranos end?

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