Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News, Billy Hicks, The Psychology of The Sopranos

 I'd totally hit that, hair and all.
One last Sopranos book before I (hopefully) finish Season 6 this week; as usual, I'm about three years behind on my to-do list . . . but before I get to that, just thought I'd let you know that I've been given the green light for TELEVISION on Examiner (in addition to film), so you can get the goods on your favorite shows from me! That is, if you just can't get enough of me right here. I suppose this means I'll have to convince Matt to order HBO in time for True Blood in a few weeks . . . (giddy clapping hands, TEAM ERIC).

ALSO: what is with Billy Hicks always making the popular posts list? Are there honestly people out there (besides me) who google BILLY HICKS? And get led to my blog? I mean, if you're telling me you want me to properly review St. Elmo's Fire, complete with write up of Billy Hicks and his contributions to the film and all other eighties culture relevancies, YOU'VE GOT A DEAL. And since only five people sent/gave me proper recommendations, I'm going to have to let this business speak for itself.

 Look for Billy Hicks, Proper in a couple of weeks, in addition to:

1. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead
2. Baghdad Cafe
3. Rubber
4. Cedar Rapids
5. Lovely, Still
6. Troll Hunter.

Moving on:
The Psychology of The Sopranos: Love, Death, Desire, and Betrayal in America's Favorite Gangster Family, 2002, by Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.

Interesting. Amusing. I mean, I kind of think shrinks are mostly ridiculous, but at least this one was interesting enough to like The Sopranos. Honestly, the chapter titles were what I liked the best,

1. Bada Being and Nothingness
2. Tony's Ailment: Janus in Jersey
3. Tony's therapy: Flirting With Disaster
4. Is Tony Treatable?
5. Medea, Oedipus, and Other Family Myths
6. Scenes From A Marriage: Godfather Knows Best
7. The Lost Boys

There are other good things, too. Since he's a shrink himself, the author does a really bang up job comparing the issues of the show to actual (anonymous) clients that he's treated himself ("I had a patient once who had similar issues"). Also, he does a good job of clarifying medical terminology or conditions in their real-word (not cinematic) environments and explains things like true psychopaths, borderline personalities, or Oedipus complexes. (Incidentally, "Both Richie Aprile and Ralph Cifaretto are probably psychopaths.")

There's a good bit on the episode "Employee of the Month," (Dr. Melfi's rape) which is one of the most disturbing and memorable episodes in the series:

"The audience is one hundred percent behind Jennifer. When she was raped, viewers were viscerally affected: Colleagues of mine said they felt like it had happened to them or a friend. So the rape drives The Sopranos audience into a feeding frenzy. They are dying for Melfi to use her transference over Tony to have him rub out the rapist. In the last scene of the episode, she begins to cry, and Tony goes over to her and puts his arm around her to comfort her. She talks through her tears and asks him to sit down again. Tony asks, 'You want to say something?' The viewers, now on their feet screaming 'Yes!' are clamoring for Jennifer to authorize the whack. Instead she says, 'No.'"

Obviously there is no shortage of material for the Medea chapter (hadn't read that myth before . . . um, yikes), this section of the book was a little difficult (I still haven't reached the point where mothers killing their children is tolerable reading). My general feeling about it is that it shed too true a light on the actual psychological conditions we see in this show, and I didn't really like that . . . it's one thing to watch violence and dysfunction and abuse on a show or film, someone's STORY, but reading about the real life relevance is not exactly my idea of entertainment.

An interesting book. Not very optimistic, though.