Bill O'Reilly - Moral Guardian: Humanizing Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini

Article by Garrett Will
Bill O'Reilly, the staunch defender of all things good and pure in the world today, is looking out for you, America! And what menace deserves his derisive, zealous eye of judgment? Well, none other than James Gandolfini, that's who!

Many of us have probably heard tell in the news and entertainment/media sections of news print that on June the 20th, James Gandolfini died rather suddenly while on a trip in Rome. He played the lead in the critically acclaimed (once one of my favourite series, until the closing season that is, but I digress) The Sopranos. He's also played roles in films such as Get Shorty, The Mexican, The Last Castle, and Where the Wild Things Are amongst others. He's been documented as being just about the polar opposite of his most famous on-screen portrayal: humble, shy, charitable, and preferring to maintain a low-profile in light of his celebrity.

Mr. O'Reilly, on the other hand, feels that James, whose death has been (and continues to be) honoured rather graciously by his friends & family, including his co-stars from the show he's most often associated with, did America no favors. In fact, because Tony Soprano, the main character from that show that needs not be named (to avoid being repetitive for sure), was a sociopathic criminal having to deal with two separate family lives, O'Reilly feels that James is responsible for glorifying that kind of lifestyle, for humanizing the character.

In his "Personal Story" segment, which you can watch if you search for it on Youtube, he pretty much slammed the guy right after his death. James died suddenly, at the modest age of 51, and with little more than a day in passing, O'Reilly felt the need to shame him. If that's not low, then I don't know what is. Bernard Goldberg, who usually comes off as the desperate, grasping-at-straws type on the show, was the guest for the segment. He said this:

Well, Tony Soprano clearly was a horrible human being, but what made him interesting, he paid for his sins…This was a morality play. Anybody paying attention, maybe not the people you referred to, but anybody paying attention, would see that Tony Soprano lost in this morality play.

And then he added:

There were two minor groups who would want to emulate Soprano. Real-life gangsters who liked the show, and said, 'Oh yeah, he is a good guy, I like him, he's like me.' And, basically, guys who want to think that they are tough, so they think, 'Yeah, I want to be like Tony Soprano.' But in a big country, and show with a big audience, you are going to have losers that think that way. But there's not a shred of evidence that this affected the culture.

O'Reilly then goes on to compare the portrayal of Tony Soprano with that of Robert De Niro's Al Capone in The Untouchables, in which Al Capone was portrayed as rather brutal and monstrous. As if that was a steady argument for him to stand on, Goldberg pretty much uprooted the ground beneath Bill with this gem:

You know why Tony Soprano was not that kind of mobster? Because he was vulnerable. He was tortured. He was going to a psychiatrist. He was an empty soul, and there was nothing inside of him. I don’t expect kids to see that and those are the people we'll have to worry about. Grown ups who paid attention? No. This did not change the culture for the worse. It was a masterpiece.

So basically, while both exploiting tabloid news (which get mad ratings in news networks, by the way) concerning the death of a celebrity, AND trying to play his self-proclaimed role as a “culture warrior”, he shamed a decidedly humble man who died not even a day before. You know what some people would call that? Disrespect.

And Bill does it all the god damn time.

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