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In homage to James Gandolfini


James Gandolfini

I have yet to meet one person who (merely) liked the Sopranos.

There are those people who loved it, and those who never had the pleasure of watching.

For six seasons, this ficitional family changed our perceptions of Italians, mob life, and even New Jersey. Isn’t it ironic that a scripted drama gave us a better representation of these things than the so called reality-show The Jersey Shore?

And how is it that a mob boss who cheated on his wife and killed his“friends” on a daily basis was more likable than those whose agendas simply read G.T.L (gym, tanning, laundry)?

James Gandolfini, that’s how.

He turned a character into a household name, and a philandering husband into a family man. We justified his actions because of his upbringing, his inner demons, and the belief that all of the senseless murders and crimes were to protect his family.

When Gandolfino died suddenly of a heart attack Wednesday, many of us said “RIP Tony Soprano,” or, “I can’t believe Tony Soprano is dead.”

It’s not because we don’t know his real name, or that the acting was so good we believe Tony Soprano was a real person (even though it WAS that good). No, it’s because, to us, James Gandolfini was Tony Soprano. That’s how we “knew” him.

While Kim and Kanye are busy shopping for the biggest payout for their baby’s pictures, James Gandolfini had an 8-month-old baby at home who many of we “superfans” didn’t even know existed. Even fewer could tell you that baby’s name. But yet we  as a society are obsessed with what other letters will follow the K in little baby West.

The truth is, James Gandolfini didn’t need to share the name of his baby, the divorce details from his first wife, or the wedding pictures from his second marriage. He was paid millions to share something so much greater with us: true, raw, unquestionable talent.

Something that most of those in the GTL crowd will never have.

Rachael Kostelec writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.


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