The "Stand-Up" Guys

#1
Hello to the Boss, the Capos and all of my Chase Lounge friends. It’s been a long time since I last posted. I have, however, been watching the Sopranos with the same vigor of past seasons and have been coming here to avidly follow and read all of your spectacular posts. It’s wonderful, but not surprising, to see that the interaction among the loyal Sopranos fans who make up this community remains friendly, open-minded and extremely insightful. In short, I am glad to be back with such a great group.

I realize that I am coming in on the tail end of the discussion of “Remember When”. But, something has been tickling the back of my mind since I first saw this episode. It deals with the concept of the “stand-up” guy. Some of you have already touched on this topic but I would like to try to distill the discussion on this point a little further.

What can we say about the “stand-up” guys? It’s certainly a theme that has been with us since the first episode of the series, but one which is being prominently featured this season and more so in the last 3 episodes. A “stand-up” guy deserves respect, admiration and emulation in the Sopranos’ world; it is the antithesis of the “rat”.

But what eventually becomes of the “stand-up” guys when the admiration fades? Tony is forcefully realizing that being a “stand-up” guy is no guarantee of invincibility. And, he is also realizing even more forcefully that making his father an icon for being a “stand-up” guy obscures the truth about Johnny Boy Soprano. The examples are all around him.

Phil Leotardo spent 20 years in prison for standing up to protect the likes of Rusty and Doc. As he put it, “for what”? In the end he still lost his beloved younger brother, is in ill health and no longer wants the young man’s job of being boss.

Junior is confined to a mental institution. Even then, when he was doing his “stand-up” routine, and telling just one more joke to the other patients, he pissed himself. He is losing control of his bodily functions as well as his mental functions.

Paulie, a universally recognized “stand-up” guy, doesn’t know who his father is, has denounced his surrogate mother, has no children, lives alone and privately wonders whether he will “stand-up” when his time comes.

Beansie was asked to be a stand-up guy and not go to the police when Richie Aprile crippled him. For all of this he must spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair and can no longer stand-up.

Are the circumstances and fates of the “stand-up” guys any better than those who failed to stand-up? Big Pussy and Johnny Sac failed to be stand-up guys. Both are dead. But so is Tony Blundetto, a guy who stood up for the family.

Tony has been seeking to avoid confronting this truth by seeking diversions like gambling more heavily, drinking more heavily, and tending to his garden. But I expect that we are going to see Tony having to confront this truth, without distraction or diversion, in the final episodes.

As a final thought on the idea of being a “stand-up”guy, I am curious as to why Paulie’s dream involved him asking Big Pussy, a known rat, if he (Paulie) would stand-up when his time came? When Pussy’s time came, he had to sit down (couldn’t stand-up). Is this an indication that Paulie has been or currently is an informer? Does he know that one day, he will be discovered and that he will have to face his fate like a man and stand-up for his own demise at the hands of the other “stand-up” guys?

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#2
This whole post brings up the whole point that Paulie (IE: Tony Sirico) could've gone to David Chase and said "fuck it, let me be a rat, that'll really fuck with their heads." Orrrrr that when Tony Sirico was renegotiating his contract maybe Chase got him to cave and we just haven't heard about it. That's really one of the few things I think would shock me, Paulie being a rat.

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#3
I almost made a post suggesting paulie may be a rat. His dream with pussy seems to be the biggest indicator of that. It kinda makes me wonder if Tony would have been right to off him on the boat, but maybe Tony's new outlook on life stopped him from doing what needed to be done.

Could Tony's new softer side from surviving the coma be his downfall?

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#4
ChristophersRelapse wrote:This whole post brings up the whole point that Paulie (IE: Tony Sirico) could've gone to David Chase and said "fuck it, let me be a rat, that'll really fuck with their heads." Orrrrr that when Tony Sirico was renegotiating his contract maybe Chase got him to cave and we just haven't heard about it. That's really one of the few things I think would shock me, Paulie being a rat.


A few years ago, I’d find that to be an about impossible idea. At this point, though, I think it’s more likely than ever before that Tony Sirico would disregard the initial contract and give Chase the go-ahead to make him a rat.

When Tony Sirico first agreed to play Paulie under those certain conditions, I don’t think he could have possibly appreciated just how special “The Sopranos” was in terms of storytelling and drama. Perhaps Chase managed to convince Sirico of how beneficial it would be to the story if it’s revealed now that he's been a rat. Maybe, just maybe, Sirico discovered that he enjoyed playing a rat, and enjoyed going somewhere else as an actor that he'd never go in real life. It’s possible …



From http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20033551,00.html:
Last season, Paulie Walnuts went on a most un-goodfella-like crying jag after learning that his beloved mother was actually his aunt ...Sirico never would have felt comfortable with that kind of bawling when the show first started. ''When Tony first started, he didn't like his hair messed up,'' says Chase. ''I think he didn't want to look silly.'' He also had some other rules: ''I told David I won't play a rat, and I'm not big on gay scenes,'' remembers Sirico. ''And he understood. It was an unwritten clause in my contract.''

But over the years, Chase started giving him more to do, and he rose to the challenge. ''Little by little he got into that comic personality, and he's just great at it,'' says Chase. ''I love watching Paulie, I could watch him forever.'' Sirico himself is surprised to see what kind of an actor he's turned into. ''I didn't even think I could get there,'' he says about his tearful histrionics. ''But I get there."...

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#5
Good topic. tsog's first post this season.

When Paulie dreamt that pussy was in his kitchen and asked him if he would stand up when his time came, was about Paulie knew he almost got whacked. I think it's pretty obvious that he hasn't flipped but like everyone in LCN he realizes his day may come. He starts pumping iron in the middle of the night 'cause he knows he's gonna have to be strong.

Whether or not he is a "stand up guy" I believe is a good question considering he doesn't really know. He has to ask a dead guy if he's strong enough to stand up to the feds.

I'm pretty sure Paulie isn't a rat and he won't be. But who knows?

And by the way... is there really any true "stand up guys" any more anywhere? not just the mob. Even old school Ray Curto, Loyal soldier Gene, Johnny Sacs alocution. Maybe the point is there isn't any and the great thing about Paulie in this episode is he hasn't flipped but nobody know if or when the time comes if any of them will "stand up".

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#6
On behalf of all of us here, welcome back, billymac! You've been missed.

billymac wrote:As a final thought on the idea of being a “stand-up”guy, I am curious as to why Paulie’s dream involved him asking Big Pussy, a known rat, if he (Paulie) would stand-up when his time came? When Pussy’s time came, he had to sit down (couldn’t stand-up). Is this an indication that Paulie has been or currently is an informer? Does he know that one day, he will be discovered and that he will have to face his fate like a man and stand-up for his own demise at the hands of the other “stand-up” guys?


That's a very interesting thought. It never ocurred to me that Paulie's dream could have been referencing what happened on the boat with Pussy rather than just the issue of, "when the Feds come after me, will I rat?" But when Tony first mentioned the boat ride, Paulie immediately became suspicious, which might seem a little paranoid since Tony is a known boat lover who enjoys fishing and since they were in Florida. Then Paulie had the flashbacks of Pussy immediately upon arriving at the boat. Perhaps that preoccupation shows a consciousness of guilt (as a rat) on his part.

Though Chase and company have usually been pretty up front about plot developments, the one exception has been with regard to rats. He has hidden the ball for a while on several of those folks, starting with Pussy. In retrospect, you can see evidence of Pussy's status in only the second episode, though an accusation wasn't leveled until ep 10 and confirmation wasn't offered until early season 2. Ray Curto is revealed as a CW out of the blue in early season 3. Same for Eugene in season 6a. Ade was the only one whose rectuitment and early involvement with the FBI was covered chronologically onscreen. So it wouldn't be out of the question for Paulie to be revealed as a rat even though we've been given no evidence of it thus far.

Something to ponder.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#7
Big Pussy was a stoolie, but when they figured out he was a rat he took it like a stand up guy. He went on the boat and took his medicine, of course asking not to get it in the face. He knew it was all over when he got on the boat. Paulie respected Big Pussy not being a pussy when he knew it was over. But Paulie almost pussed out with the boat and he didn't know if that was going to happen. It didn't but he knew it could have. He is worried that if he knows he is going to get offed will he say "f@ck it" and not be a girl.

The whole problem of being a stand up guy is that the whole thing revolves around it. Not being a rat is what holds it all together. Most of the people in the mob are either so stupid or psychotic that without that base ethic the thing can't function. Being a fink has to be punished by death, but it is the zenith of dishonor for the mouth that opens. That is their faith.

But that is why this is so entertaining. Really there is no such thing as the mafia.

Re: The "Stand-Up" Guys

#8
I think one point that has been missed so far is about the joke about Ginny Sack. I think Tony is SURE that Paulie is the one who told Johnny about the joke. Plus Paulie likes to blab to anyone he passes in the street lately. If Paulie likes to talk so much, maybe Tony thinks he will talk to the feds too! Thats why he thought about killing him on the boat.

In my opinion, Paulie is a rat - maybe not to the feds (yet), but to NY for sure. His loyality is questionable, even though he and Tony go way back. Not too much of a stand-up guy to me!
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