I Gotta Gene Missing When It Comes To . . . Mafia Stories

The Freshman: Godfather parody/tribute.
Everybody has individual tastes. Some people dislike fantasy (those weirdos). Some people love Star Trek (those weirdos). I try to aim for being a Renaissance Woman: I may not like it but at least I'll give it a read or a watch. And I consider myself fairly well-educated in cultural media (though not as much as some people!).

Mafia stories are one of my blind spots.

I can't even point to exactly why I dislike them. It isn't automatically the violence--because I watch Criminal Minds (although that varies from season to season). It isn't automatically a dislike of criminal behavior; I enjoy anti-heroes like Batman; I watch Leverage; I've seen Robin Hood.

It IS probably the forced interest in people that I see as thugs (not just as people acting outside the law). I suppose if I did watch mafia stories, I would feel morally disgusted by all the tacky and trashy behavior masking itself as cool.

But I never watch mafia stories; they bore me senseless. If I'm watching a murder/cop show--Murder, She Wrote; Law & Order; Matlock; NCIS--and the episode turns into a mafia thing, 9 times out of 10, I start thinking about hole-punching or trimming my nails or scrubbing my bathroom floor.

The 10th time, the mafia thing isn't the controlling interest, just an underlying problem.

For example, Person of Interest's Elias is the underlying problem that Reed and Finch must tackle. The story is about Reed and Finch and Elias interacting, not about the mafia (per se). Likewise, in Criminal Minds' "Natural Born Killers", the story is about saving the undercover agent and the serial killer, not the mafia--and in Monk's "Monk Meets the Godfather," the story is really about the stolen pennies.

And so on and so forth.

I've never seen any of The Godfather movies. I've never seen The Sopranos. I might if I was stuck on a deserted island for a month and I'd run through all my paperbacks twice. Maybe. Other than the thuggery, I imagine my resistance comes from (1) a desire for story (rather than a series of soaperatic events); (2) a need for at least one character to root for; (3) a preference for domestic-related murders/crimes: spy and terrorist plots don't interest me all that much either.

Which isn't to say I don't get Godfather references! I saw The Freshman with Matthew Broderick and got the jokes. I got the joke in Ballykissangel when one guy threatens another by putting a horse's . . . saddle in his bed. I totally got the jokes in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (see below). But these are all cases where I happily relied on cultural osmosis rather than direct knowledge.

1 comment:

Eugene said...

If I go to the bother of renting a DVD and don't like it, I'll usually sit through it anyway (or at least fast-forward through it). One of the few exceptions was The Sopranos. Bored me silly: unlikable people I don't care about doing things I don't care about.

What makes Elias different is that he completely fails the first time around. He doesn't then suddenly become a nice guy, but does realize he has to act with reciprocal morality toward people in the position to help him. Character growth: that's interesting.

Another genre that quickly wears thin is the "Massive Conspiracy." The X-Files actually only touched upon it now and then, and even acknowledged the absurdity of the premise. But by the end of this season, Person of Interest was testing my patience.

I have to hope they can take The X-Files approach and next season mostly park the conspirators off to the side except for an occasional reminder.