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James Gandolfini: How America Celebrates Actors

The New York Post, July 3, 2013

The Issue: The media attention surrounding the sudden death and funeral of James Gandolfini.

The sudden passing of James Gandolfini has generated a wave of Sopranos nostalgia that borders on the hyperbolic ("A Final Farewell," John Podhoretz, PostOpinion, June 28).

James Gandolfini Podhoretz's breathless ode to "The Sopranos" transforms a talented yet imperfect character actor into a timeless Shakespearean icon.

He finds the Garden State native's role as Tony Soprano to be "the greatest sustained performance ever given."

Really? Better than Orson Welles' Citizen Kane?

Moreover, Podhoretz ignores HBO's dirty little secret: While The Sopranos hinged on the creative conceit of a bloodthirsty capo undergoing psychotherapy, the program's greatest drawing card was the schadenfreude it engendered among viewers.

In an era that quite rightly deplores discrimination, David Chase & Co. allowed Americans to luxuriate in popular culture's only socially acceptable prejudice: Italophobia.

Gandolfini brought the fictional Tony Soprano to life. However, the vast majority of real-world Italian-Americans are not like Soprano.

Rosario Iaconis
Mineola, NY

 
 
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