Knowing that documentary type flicks don’t stay long in the theatres, I figured I better get to Clearview and see “The Soprano State :New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption, Part 1” this week and I did.
Seeing on the heals of the another documentary a few days earlier, “Waiting on Superman” which was excellent, I was excited to see this film.
Right away I didn’t like it.
The narrator/staging was a in a faux comedy venue (I’m sure that was the point of making fun of our state of New Jersey) and his name was Tony Darrow (not sure if an actor or real comedian/entertainer – don’t really care). Always in the background was some cheesy music (quite intentional) to further bring down the state. Also the filmed often use low level animation to emphasize a scene or point.
Up on stage smoking, drinking and setting up a multitude of vignettes that laid out story after story of New Jersey political corruption going back 200 years. Essentially, they presented mini stories like a “greatest hits” or moreso “low lights” in NJ’s history of graft, corruption, greed etc.
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The stories were endless but having living here for 30+ years, I was sort of numb and used to it. If one lived outside of NJ, you would simply never “ever” move to NJ.
The documentary simply fortified the many negative stereotypes of our state perpetuated for decades in print and in entertainment.
The most interesting part for me was the end where they recapped where the “the crooks are now in their lives”. What struck me more than anything was how short the sentences were for these criminals and how quickly they got out of jail.
No doubt they had hidden $ away (for use when they got out) and in a country where we are famous for 2nd chances, these guys (and some girls) are probably living as large as ever.
I thought now Governor and then states attorney Chris Christie comes across most impressively (and I’m mostly a Democrat) as a man of action and leadership (like Rudy G. post 9-11).
The other main theme was almost voter indifference showing that most New Jerseyians subscribe to “vote the incumbents out …. just not their incumbent” and that they politicians seem to know that. Hence why they play the graft game as they are generally and historically safe. We are a gambling state and the odds are good that they’ll do good playing this game.