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Archive for June 11th, 2007

as featured on the sopranos last night

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AJ (comfortably clear of his dark preoccupation with “yeets” and the war on terror and the sources of his parents’ wealth) is kicked back on the couch with his underage model girlfriend, cracking up as they watch exactly this:

I imagine what drew Chase’s / the writer’s interest to this clip is the hidden-in-plain-sight nature of the R & T Correspondents Association dinner. The significance of clips like this one (as with Bush’s infamous “Dude, who stole my WMDs” performance) is not of course of the “hey, this is what they’re really like when they’re unguarded on stage” variety. Everyone knows that the material will be taped and disseminated, and this is what informs what’s so horrifically amazing about this material. The dissemination of this stuff – the fact that, seriously, the joke is on you about WMDs, the fact that given the opportunity the head propagandist will smear on black face and hop around the stage – this stuff is meant for distribution, meant to send us a message about what power really means, what it means to have the press in your backpocket, and what it means that you have to (or had to) give Imus a handjob on the air if you wanted to be elected president, or even NJ or CT senator.

Just as the Sopranos was always about forcing us to confront the all too visible sources of wealth that landscapes the green, well-trimmed lawns and lifts the entry-way atriums of the NJ mcmansions, so obvious and insistent from the start that the entirety of culture is bent on making or allowing us to forget it, “MC Rove” crystallizes the political structure that grows in that soil, where we see what we see and we know what we see and we can even say what we see, but that’s it. The screen goes black – there will be no denouement, no final twist. Nothing is slouching towards bethlehem to be born.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

June 11, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Posted in america, teevee

fade to black

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(Spoiler-warning – I’m talking here about the final episode of the Sopranos, which aired tonight…)

Wonderful, to think of the ten-million or so viewers shouting “fuck!” because their tv went out at once. (I know we did! “Fucking DVR! Fix it! Fix it!”… Until the credits started to roll… (The baby went down late tonight, so we watched on a 20 minute digital video delay…)

You can’t accomplish this sort of ending with most other media – the reader of the novel can see exactly how many words remain, always know as they read the final sentence of the work “this is the final sentence of the work.”

Chase and his writers, fully aware of the atmosphere they work in today in America, forced forward this season the theme of violence, the media, and audience complicity. The last two episodes have been marked by gross-out sequences that featured ooing and tonight barfing audiences

Phil’s death scene was a little masterpiece of the form. From the two kids in car seats in the back of the SUV, which echos Tony’s fixation on the demolished car seat in the back of Christopher’s car) to the way that the rolling vehicle forces us to make a decision between fixing on Phil’s head about to be crushed by the tires or the fate of the little ones in the back, about to roll into traffic, to the projectile-vomiting on-looker – and back to last week Altman-esque scene with the Bada Bing’s employees and guests admiring the collateral damage in the form of a crushed motorcylist on Rt. 17 – Chase was making a clear point about what it is that he is making, what it costs in terms of genre-mixing to make it, and our own relationship as viewers to the show…

(I’ve read on line that Phil’s death scene was filmed in my old hometown. Which wasn’t an altogether rough place, but wasn’t quite placid suburbia either. There was one night when my buddy and I rolled into a gas station / quickimart for some gas and cigarettes, when we noticed that there was a guy dead by gunshot laying on the tarmac of the parking lot. Being nihilistic (read: stupid) 17 year olds, we went into the quickimart anyway, where the clerk (whose demeanor suggested that he’d seen this sort of thing before) informed us that we couldn’t buy our Mountain Dews, nor our Marlboro Lights, as there was “an ongoing police investigation, dude”.)

Back to the final scene. I have to admit that I was hoping for one of the many variations on “discovery that Tony and Carmela are really only working stiffs / bourgie escapees whose fantasy of a more interesting life we have been viewing,” and in a weird way we almost get there with the end of the show. What are we supposed to take away from the locale of the final scene, all the workingclassers with their flannel and Members Only jackets, the frigging Weeblos with their creepy Scout Leaders, and the like. Where have we, with the family, returned to? No bling, no fancified mobsters – the end of the show takes us back down the hill that Tony’s subdivision is parked on top of, and begs us to paranoically identify almost every person in the restaurant as a potential murderer, while we simultaneously watch as Meadow painstaking parallel parks her Beemer.

Question: can anyone think of good literary or cinematic examples of this sort of ending, the abrupt stop right in the middle of things? I’ve seen a few in various comment threads, and I know there are some novelistic examples, but I’m wondering what all of you can come up with…

more to come…

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Written by adswithoutproducts

June 11, 2007 at 3:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized