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As Seen on TV: “Woke Up This Morning”

Posted by purplemary54 on June 20, 2013

There’s so much going on in the world right now.  From war to famine to environmental disaster, crime and economic strife.  There’s just so much to be worried about, so much to be outraged about, that is seems a little ridiculous to be so stunned by the death of an actor.  But there you have it.

I guess in some ways it easier to react to the death of James Gandolfini from an apparent heart attack at the age of 51.  That’s just a few years older than me, so it would leave me a little shaken anyway.  (And lord, I feel so much empathy for his young son, who found his father.  I was in the exact same position a few weeks ago myself.  I feel lost and confused still, and I’m sure that feeling must be magnified for this child.  At least I got a chance to grow up with my father.)  Celebrities and performers of all sorts are like family.  They become integral parts of our lives.  We listen to their music, watch their TV shows, buy tickets to see their movies. We get giddy when they sign our merchandise or take a photo with us, as if they let us into their lives in return.  We feel like we know them.

James Gandolfini played a character that became iconic, a familiar face that came over to visit millions of living rooms every week.  Even if you never watched the show (like me), you know who Tony Soprano is.  You understand and empathize with him, even as you stare in mute shock at the violence of his world.  You know him, and his whole family.  It can be difficult to separate the character from the man, but Gandolfini was by all accounts a great big teddy bear of a guy.  It’s a tribute to his talent that he made so many believe he was a cold-blooded mobster.

I guess in some ways The Sopranos reflects the world we live in: a random, chaotic, sometimes violent, sometimes loving, sometimes indifferent place.  The theme song by Alabama 3 definitely reflects the dark tone of the series.  The pulsing, rumbling music creates an apocalyptic mood.  There’s dread and fear in a place that looks so ordinary from the outside.  “Woke up this morning, got myself a gun.”  There’s no way to predict from one moment to the next what will happen, who will live, who will die.  You could describe The Sopranos as a show about a mobster, his family, and all their problems.  But what it was really about was life in all its glorious uncertainty.


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