Friday, May 26, 2006

The Prophet Muhammad Likes The Sopranos

The Prophet Muhammad sat in a large brown leather chair with wide arm rests. The Prophet was in a large oval office dimly lit by up-lighting from the single built-in shelf that ran along each side of the oval walls. On the shelf was an occasional soap stone animal figure, ranging from a seal to a polar bear to various birds. The Prophet rubbed his hands up and down the thick arm rests, feeling the leather, examining it as if he had never felt such smooth leather before. He was wearing a turban and a black robe. He had a beard and short hair, both black and flecked with grey. His skin glistened like dark porcelain. The Prophet smiled as he looked around the room. His teeth were perfect and as white as the snow he had never seen.

Opposite the Prophet sat Lorraine Bracco. Lorraine was dressed in a pink skirt and matching jacket with a white blouse. Her hands were clasped on her lap and her legs were crossed, as she would always do during her sessions to remain modest. This was particularly true at this moment with a new client, particularly this client. Lorraine was slowly air tapping her black high heel as she waited for the Prophet to say something.

"This is leather, yes?" said the Prophet.

"Yes," said Lorraine.

"Very nice. And very nice room. I've never seen clothing like you wear. Is it comfortable?" asked the Prophet.

"Yes. Is there something you wish to talk about?" asked Lorraine.

"Yes. Yes. Talk. I am troubled. I am troubled by all the violence. I see much violence in the world. I see it on your television show, Miss Bracco. It is troubling, yes?" asked the Prophet.

"But you are here to talk about you, not the violence in the world. Tell me why the violence troubles you?" asked Lorraine.

"This is a funny question. Do you think it odd that I should be troubled by violence?" asked the Prophet.

"That is not the point. It may be perfectly reasonable to be troubled by violence. But why does it trouble you? What is the reason for your troubled reaction?" asked Lorraine.

"It is a question of morality. God is displeased with violence. It is immoral. Immoral acts trouble me because they trouble God," said the Prophet.

"If violence did not trouble God, then it would not trouble you?" asked Lorraine.

"Of course not. Who am I to quibble with God," said the Prophet.

"Much violence you see would appear to be coming from people who claim to follow you," said Lorraine.

"Oh, but of course. If you look around, you will see violence everywhere, from people who claim to follow me, from people who follow others, from people who follow no one. But I find the false violence, the violence that is portrayed on your television show and other shows to be quite curious. It is violence that is not real. You make it up. Why would anyone make up violence when so much already exists," said the Prophet.

"Because it is entertaining," said Lorraine, who immediately felt uncomfortable with her explanation.

"This Tony Soprano. He seems to be growing less violent," said the Prophet.

"Yes. I am not permitted to talk about the show," said Lorraine.

The Prophet raises his hand and makes a very slow circle in the air with it.

"OK, I will talk about it. Tony Soprano is going through much self-reflection. He is less violent during this period of his life and of course the show is consequently losing viewers," said Lorraine.

"Self-reflection. Yes. That is important. No doubt due to having been shot and coming close to his maker," said the Prophet.

"In defense of our show, you do not find any of our characters committing suicide in the name of their religion or God," said Lorraine.

"You misinterpret the act. It is not suicide. It is violence to people or property in the service of a cause, and in the process the perpetrator of the act dies. Tony Soprano once would do violence for money or disloyalty, but of course he would not wish to die. Is one form more troubling than the other?" said the Prophet.

"Does any of this violence trouble you? The killing in the name of Islam?” said Lorraine.

"Yes. It troubles me. Of course. It is due in part to a misinterpretation of the Book. It is not seventy-two virgins that await a martyr; it is seventy-two raisins. An understandable mistake, but an unfortunate one. A raisin is not nearly as attractive as a virgin. I think that all this violence will make my followers at some point have a Tony Soprano experience," said the Prophet.

"I think that violence leads to more violence. Like perpetual motion, it goes on and on," said Lorraine.

"Ah yes. Maybe. But you know I have a theory. This internet creates more viewers and viewers like violence. So you have this much bigger audience today that seeks the drama of violence and so the world gives it to them. Your show, The Sopranos, well, look at its viewers. They diminish every week that passes with Tony Soprano not being violent. It is a lesson," said the Prophet.

"A lesson? What is the lesson?" asked Lorraine.

"Get rid of the medium, cut off the viewers, and the violence will have no possibility of high ratings. Your show goes against the screaming masses. That makes it good. It is fighting the hunger for violence. But it will not last. Television will either kill it, or Tony Soprano will have to start killing again. So I suggest instead to kill the television. Without it, there is no ratings, and no need for this violence. It would make me less troubled." said the Prophet.

“You get HBO?” asked Lorraine.

“Doesn’t everybody?” said the Prophet.

"Your time is up," said Lorraine.

"I hope you are wrong, Miss Bracco," said the Prophet as he smiled, a sparkle of light hitting one of his bright white teeth.

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