Friday 21 June 2013


We lost another icon in the entertainment world, or so I thought anyway. At the all too young age of 51, James Gandolfini suffered a heart attack in Rome. [When I go, I wouldn’t mind going in Rome after a nice Italian meal, but I certainly don’t want to rush things]. It’s pretty commonly accepted that James Gandolfini helped create (credit of course must also go to David Chase, the Sopranos creator) one of the greatest characters in television history. I mean let’s be honest, there is and always will be, only one Tony Soprano. 

It’s a curious thing when icons of our generation die, no matter what profession they are a part of; and you start to realize that it means far more to people than simple empathy for an individual's passing (not to trivialize Mr. Gandolfini’s very significant passing as my heart simply aches for his young children and new wife). Suddenly, it starts to represent the passing of time, the aging if you will of a generation that has watched these icons deliver some of their best work (in whatever fields they happen to inhabit) and we all collectively start to feel how precious time is. I mean, we all know this. We talk about this, but truly feeling it and digesting it is altogether a different story. Ah denial, it's a powerful beast.

In terms of television and film there is a sort of ownership that tends to happen in regards to the characters from these mediums. Obviously, as an audience we don’t know these public figures personally aside from their work as actors and from the interviews they give; we hear from their colleagues etc. that they are magnanimous individuals, generous, wise, kind, colorful, whatever the adjective, and we can do with that as we will. But for the general public, we watch these people bring characters to life that become part of our zeitgeist. Whether or not you relate to the character, you find something of relevance to you, and with every weekly tune in, an attachment grows, a memory and emotion is built around it, and you start to believe that Tony Soprano is actually sitting in New Jersey in his bathrobe as he stuffs his face as he hollers across the house at Carmella (that's if the show is THAT good. this is not going to happen with...well a show like, Charmed for instance), and damn it, you like it that way. Or I do anyway, but then again, I have a very active imagination.

The other thing that strikes me when an icon dies is not only the hole they will leave in terms of their contribution to the arts (or medicine, politics (haaaaa) or science etc.), but who will replace them? Will anyone be able to replace them? In the day and age of reality television and franchise films, it seems hard pressed to think that we’ll have another batch of actors like the ones we’ve spent time with over the last forty years. I’d like to think a new Newman or Redford is going to sprout up (please sprout up in my living room if you would Mr. Redford), but I very much doubt it. It’s a different age, a different landscape and the entertainers of today are of a very different ilk. Ahem. Very different.

I’ve talked about the air of mystery - and importance for an actor to possess this elusive quality - many times before, and in the case of James Gandolfini, he definitely had it. He seemed to keep to himself, have a loyal set of friends throughout his life and was not running off to do a reality show any time soon (ohhh thank god for that). On the contrary, you simply waited to see what work he would throw himself into and sat back to enjoy the spoils. And god damn could that man deliver. So in the name of Mr. G, a great icon, I am going to fire up some past episodes of the Sopranos – for those of you that never have watched, get to it, it’s some of the greatest writing and acting you’ll ever witness. While the other part of me sits here hoping that in the next decade we’re not simply left with a batch of pre-pubescent celebrities that can’t even spell gravitas, let alone possess it.

“Don’t Stop Believin’” people. 

Happy Friday. 

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