Memo To: Home Box Office
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Cancel my subscription
For as long as I live, I will never forget the rape scene in last night’s episode of The Sopranos. It was the ugliest, most disgusting, graphic and unnecessary rape scene I have ever seen. It was all the more repulsive because I knew tens of millions of American families had been suckered into watching the show and were witnessing that scene -- many with their teenage children at the same time my wife Patricia and I were. It was like our whole national family witnessing the rape of a woman we had come to know and respect, right on our living room floor, and we could do nothing about it. Before the scene had completely unfolded, Patricia gagged, got up from her chair and announced that she would never watch another Soprano episode and asked if I would mind if she canceled our HBO subscription -- which your records will show we have had since day one. Our Sunday evening was wrecked and we sat shaking with anger and emotion, unable to shake off the revulsion we felt.
How dismayed we are with you for permitting this program to air with this scene. All we can think of is that David Chase, the show’s creator, wanted to employ a dramatic device to set up the revenge of the rape of his female psychiatrist by Tony Soprano. What Chase did was cheap and repulsive, and it stuns me that the cast would go along with it, especially Lorraine Bracco, who had to submit to the rape. This was so realistic that I wonder if the producers asked that the rape actually be carried out in order to achieve greatest effect. Will we next see a snuff scene, with a live actor murdered on the spot? In all my 65 years, Mr. and Mrs. HBO, I’ve witnessed a great many offensive scenes on film and on stage, but this is as rock bottom as it gets. David Chase may insist he wanted to shock, for dramatic effect, but that is no excuse for you allowing him to get away with it. As the national statistics climb this year for forcible rape, you can take partial credit for each and every one of them.