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June 11, 2007

The Sopranos Finale

Art is fundamentally ironic and destructive. It revitalizes the world. Its function is to create inequalities, which it does by means of contrasts.
-- Victor Shklovsky

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

-- Journey, "Don't Stop Believing"

The final scene -- the whole sequence unfolding as the Journey song played -- was a tour de force, foregrounding all the formal means by which we can be manipulated to expect that a build-up of tension will result in some decisive event. And then it cuts out before the word "believing" in the song, in a way that leaves us momentarily uncertain whether the blank screen is a technical failure, the medium itself disrupting the story.

Of course, anything could have then happened. The empty screen could be the moment of Tony's death:The shifty guy who headed to the bathroom (overtones of The Godfather) might have come back shooting....The black kids might have been there to rob the place....The reaction shots of Tony made those interpretations of the situation plausible.

Or it might be that none of the above is true -- the guy might just need to piss, the kids are stopping by for ice cream, and life goes on. "On and on and on and on," in the words of the song, which was huge when Tony and I were in high school. (The realization of age-cohort overlap whenever Tony listens to "his" music was, for me, always part of the texture of experience in watching the show: a moment of identification that was also kind of jolting.)

And AJ, alienated critic of the military/entertainment industrial complex, is reconciled to everything the second he can find a place in it.

(crossposted at HuffPo)

Posted by smclemee at June 11, 2007 7:25 AM


[The following complaint about "The Sopranos" fostering stupidity and violence is by a poster who turned into a complete troll. All of his other comments, here and elsewhere at QS, have been deleted, and this one disemvowelled. Plus, his name is recast to spare him the embarrassment a saner person would feel under the circumstances.--The Management]

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Posted by: Ranty Q. Ranter at June 12, 2007 6:53 AM

Wow. There's a link between television and violence? Maybe HBO should organize a teen summit with Joe Lieberman and Michelle Malkin. They could watch an episode of the Wire together and then talk about how violence is a bad thing.

Posted by: Richard at June 13, 2007 7:13 AM