James Gandolfini's Impact on the Italian-American Image

The late "Sopranos" star left a powerful imprint on the culture.
4:44 | 06/20/13

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Transcript for James Gandolfini's Impact on the Italian-American Image
The passing of actor James Gandolfini has shocked the nation at the age of 51 star accomplished so much on the stage and the screen. But it was his role as Tony Soprano. -- not only took into icon status that really. Solidified him as an Italian American actor and here to talk to -- -- -- this. Is mark Patel an expert in Italian American culture in the media and author of on the way the story of Italian American song. Markets are great having thanks for being here thank you for having me -- so tell little -- about. Tony Soprano the character and what he meant to be Italian American community because there -- controversy over that. Yet you're -- right and Tony Soprano and The Sopranos there I should say the Italian American community has had a complicated relationship with Tony Soprano. And The Sopranos and and it's. Broken down largely I think generational -- so you have those. Who grew up may be in the 40s50s and sixties who watched the show in and we're very familiar firsthand with I think. A lot of -- anti Italian sentiment that was going on at the time and they see this show is kind of perpetuating the stereotype of Italian men as being sluggish. Brutish. Ignorant and and violent and Italian American women is being. Housewives or our moms who -- on their sons and daughters and at no cost and then ended just in in. With no questions that. And things -- broke down generational the older generation. Thinking. Not so -- you know not so bad in the younger generation more critical -- -- yeah. Are thinking the older generation thinking that this is perpetuating this -- Much in same way that that the generation before them felt that the godfather did the same thing right. And you have I think -- younger generation who is looking at this to say. Wow this is really kind of feel quite. Breaking open the the stereo -- Italian American families is being this close knit family. That each Sunday dinners together we're always happy we always seeing at the table we we're just one big family. And kind of takes a real look at the complexities of the Italian American family. Where is -- we talk about the doting mom we're here and The Sopranos. Tony sopranos mom is anything but -- -- in fact kind of mean. And and we also have this character who. Breaks this code of silence -- -- -- that we heard from the godfather. The silence that never to talk -- on your family be your your your family at home -- your work family. I hear -- into my -- I -- to dislike the way it's horrible and and here is telling all his secrets all the secrets of his life of his work. And this was often considered taboo in Italian American families right principle refreshing from the younger generation to say that's exactly it and it and exactly and and I wouldn't be surprised if there are many Italian American. Men especially who kind of turned to -- A therapist. It is a great big piece of art right -- the show is so well written well. Act dead so this economy is an enterprise and being taken -- and from that perspective as well. Sure OIL I definitely think -- and I think the the audiences. That and and again this new generation mean the all older audiences. We're turned off by the language by the Marlins -- just by the stereotype that it even existed I think they just didn't want it to be on where's the younger audiences. May be more more used to this kind of violence -- talking could could appreciate -- the artistry that -- -- -- great writers great direction or reactors. Exactly how many of the legacy -- me. I I think this builds on the godfather there where for the first time. And that in many people would say the godfather has written by -- -- -- was the quintessential Italian American novel. Others would argue that. But here for the first time with the movie in the book we saw -- these mobsters portrayed as real people they have families they took care of the kids -- -- at weddings. Oral -- -- they were more link exactly and here. We you kind of break open that facade or at least you -- to one level deeper and and you see what's really making this monsters -- -- as a human. Right to say thank -- legacy in general -- positive despite some of the controversy if things. I think so and again as you said as you pointed out is just a great form -- part I think you've just broke grounds. Throughout absolutely Wal-Mart -- tell -- thank you so much for talking to us from that there -- -- threat. I love -- rather thank you thanks leaving me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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