Just What Is It That Makes Tony Soprano Such an Appealing, Attractive Murderer?

Smith, Murray (2011) Just What Is It That Makes Tony Soprano Such an Appealing, Attractive Murderer? In: Jones, Ward and Vice, Samantha, eds. Ethics at the Cinema. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 66-90. ISBN 9780195320398 (hbk); 9780195320404 (pbk). (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Tony Soprano is a vicious thug. And yet, he commands the loyalty, affection and sympathy of most viewers of The Sopranos. The case of Soprano gives rise to two philosophical questions. The first concerns the problem of personality. How can we feel sympathy for, or be attracted to, characters who would repel and appall us, were we to encounter them in reality? The second concern can be traced back to David Hume’s remarks on ‘vicious manners’ and ‘rough heroes’ in ‘Of the Standard of Taste.’ What are the moral implications of the fact that we find Soprano an appealing and sympathetic character? In approaching these questions, I first consider the different ways in which fictions may engage us morally. In tackling the problem of personality, I survey a range of possible answers, and contend that our stance towards Soprano is a complex amalgam of attraction – elicited by both Soprano’s moral and immoral actions – and repulsion. The very complexity of this stance implies that the second, moral question is a live one which will require further careful consideration.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: The Sopranos, ethicism, imaginative resistance, allegiance, identification, tragedy, David Hume, Lessing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages (inc film, TV and radio studies)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Film
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Philosophy
Depositing User: Murray Smith
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2012 23:15
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2013 09:31
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/31407 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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