The Significance / Metaphorical Use of the Football Helmet

#1
<span style="font-size:medium;">The Significance / Metaphorical use of the Football Helmet</span>

I am not sure if I may be reading too much into this or if indeed I am searching and holding onto something that isn’t there and would truly appreciate everybody’s take on the following.

Regarding the scene in COLD STONES where Tony smashed AJ’s windscreen with the football helmet – I was instantly interested by the choice of the football helmet, as the implement with which to destroy the windscreen with, when surely the fire-extinguisher and number of hammer/tool like implements that were evidently to hand in that garage would have been a perhaps easier tool – and considering that we saw Tony specifically use the helmet, I am somewhat convinced that its metaphorical value must have been a conscious decision for inclusion by Chase and/or the episode writers.

During the COLD STONES episode, we were witness to instances where both Carmella and Tony, independently of each other, demonstrated verbally what seems to have been a demonstration of their completely running out of patience, some may even say hope, for their son, Carmella referring to AJ as “him” to Tony, illustrating somewhat of a distancing effect with her role as a loving mother, and Tony using the almost damning phrase to Melfi in stating that he “hates” his son – both IMO seeming admissions of somewhat of a loss of hope for AJs future/destiny.

It was therefore interesting to me in how the football helmet so strongly represents the hope that particularly Tony had for AJ, as a solid future career for him, and as a means of steering him out of a future involvement with the ‘F’amily.

We had Tony’s fervent claim to AJ when he was expelled from high school that he was “throwing his ‘football’ career down the drain”, Tony’s own issues with his football coach manifested within his ‘TEST DREAM’ and how he himself wasn’t ‘prepared’ and in the case with many parents, their own unrealised dreams are in some cases passed, even forced onto their offspring in the hope of, by extension, having them realised.

This latter point was touched on in Melfi’s office after the TEST DREAM where she deduced that when Tony went to visit AJs football coach, he wished that he would seen promise in AJ too.

Then of course there were Uncle Junior’s off-hat remarks through Season 5 of Tony never having the “makings of a Varsity athlete” as well as the fact that of all his and his siblings childhood artefacts, Livia preserved Tony’s football awards and memorabilia…

Furthermore, Jackie Jr. and all the hopes Tony may have initially had in an Aprille/Soprano union with Jackie and Meadow, Football seemingly played a significant role in Jackie’s character with him imparting his football wisdom onto AJ during the period where Tony had seemingly genuine affection for Jackie and how subsequently a football scholarship in Jackie’s name was set up in his honour following his death.

For these reasons, AJ and more importantly by backwards extension Tony’s own hopes and dreams, were in many veins represented by football and so I saw it as a fitting metaphorical display by Chase/the COLD STONE writers that in a stage of the series where it seems that however way it will end, it will more likely end for worse than for better for Tony and/or his immediate family, that where the foundations of his life for so long seem to be crashing down around him, be that consciously or unconsciously at this stage in the season, that in this small scene, that the choice of a football helmet to physically demonstrate this crashing down, seems somewhat fitting.


</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p098.ezboard.com/bthechaselounge.showUserPublicProfile?gid=giuseppesoprano>GiuseppeSoprano</A> at: 6/2/06 12:06 pm

Re: The Significance / Metaphorical Use of the Football Helm

#2
wow GiuseppeSoprano what a post!

i saw a screen cap of the moment when Tony is looking right into the face of the helmet before smashing it into the windshield. Its hard to catch watching the scene realtime. I remember thinking at the time that it looks just like a skull- with big dark eye-holes. For a brief second, it was just like a moment from Hamlet, scene V, when Hamlet is at Ophelia's gravesite, and he holds up the skull (of his former jester) in the classic pose, asking it face-to-face: "where are your gibes/mocking now?..."

Just prior to this moment in the garage, AJ had just given T more lipservice and mocking nods, not really getting how serious Tony was until the big smash. I got the impression that the helmet was a substitution for AJs skull, like a threatening gesture, yet Tony had a moment of respect for it before he shattered it. What once protected AJs very brain is still subject to the authority of Tony's final disposition.

Remember his remarks about how if it wasn't for AJs mother, T wouldda knocked his babyteeth out long ago? I'm not sure Tony would have pulled this same stunt if Carmella were still nearby in the kitchen. (See my posts in the Paris Trip thread). I'm still pondering about Livia saving T's football memorabilia. That theme of how we just repeat our forebears behaviors and sins and patterns, etc. just keeps coming up in our faces.

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Re: The Significance / Metaphorical Use of the Football Helm

#3
I too thought Tony deliberately chose the football helmet instead of a more practical object. The frustration that Tony was feeling at that moment because he just couldn't get through to AJ was palpable. I think one of the reasons he chose the helmet was that he really wanted to smash AJ's head into the windshield. Had AJ been a member of Tony's other 'family', he probably would have done so.

The helmet also represents all of Tony's hopes for AJ, as you discussed. His son may not be following in his footsteps, but it's not really much better if he ends up wasting his life, is it? I think Tony is starting to see how events are spiraling out of his control, and it terrifies him. As leader of both families, he's paralyzed by his fear of the consequences of violence, but the life he has chosen does not allow for peaceful, happy endings either.

This whole season has had such a chilling sense of foreboding. Not just in the story-telling, but the use of Paris, and the rest of the sets, and the music and lighting. It's not going to end well for Tony's real family or his business family. I think Chase let Meadow escape, perhaps out of fondness for a character the same age as his daughter?

</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p098.ezboard.com/bthechaselounge.showUserPublicProfile?gid=chrisishot1>chrisishot1</A> at: 6/2/06 7:52 pm

Re: The Significance / Metaphorical Use of the Football Helm

#4
Giuseppe, wonderful topical post. I hadn't thought about the use of the helmet beyond what others mentioned . . . that it was a symbolic substitute for AJ's head. Frankly, I didn't even realize it was a football helmet. It went by so quickly, and I've "only" watched the ep 3 times.:-) I actually thought it was a biking helmet.

But I like your interpretation, whether that's Chase's intent or not. It makes a great connection with the Tony/Jackie Jr./AJ "football as legit alternative to the mob life."

The only problem I ever had with AJ being included in this is that, especially after 9th grade, it was apparent that he was far too small to ever have any future associated with football (except as an equipment manager, or something like that). My nephew just turned 15, is 6'2" and about 210 pounds, and he isn't by any means the largest kid on his 9th grade team. That AJ could have ever excelled at football, especially as a line backer ((?), was always a major strain of credulity. It reached the joke stage during season 5 when AJ, who seemingly hadn't grown an inch or gained a pound in two years, was somehow relying on football as an "ace in the hole" for college admission.

Perhaps this was redeemed in Cold Stones by dovetailing the football helmet/windshield smashing with Tony's resentment of Carmela. She protected AJ from the bear, literally and figuratively, and passed him genes for small size to boot. So because of her, AJ has neither of the two options that Tony (and even Jackie Jr.) enjoyed . . . too small to make it in the football alternative, too soft to make it in the mob.

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