Friday, May 23, 2008

David Mamet's Right Turn

The American right has had few victories lately. Reaganism is in its death agony. The one gain that mattered for them, isn't noticed. They are not great supporters of live theater (except blogger Incognito), so they don't pick up on what occured.

The great writer, director, and producer David Mamet had an essay in the Village Voice called David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal. He announces here that he is neoconservative. This is from his essay: But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.

The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.
That could be written by an anarchist.

Mamet wrote anti-corporate plays as Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed the Plough. He is best known for his works using abusive language, characters talking over one another, and at times sentences unfinished. His 1992 Oleanna, was based on the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings, was an explosive work about sexual harassement. Now Mamet is calling Thomas Sewell his main political influence.

I'm interested in the roots of his political change. He always was pro-Zionist and a long time NRA member. He is not Bill O'Reilly. How is it that someone of his abilities, becomes neoconservative? Just like John Steinbeck, who wrote Grapes of Wrath became anticommunist. The roots of Steinbeck's change was American exceptionalism. Christopher Hitchens was never a trotskyist, rather he mistook Al Schachtman for being Trotskyist. Does anyone see the embryo of Mamet's conservatism in his art?

At theaters now is David Mamet's tribute to Mixed Martial Arts called Redbelt.



Seán said...

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of my favourite plays of the last thirty years or so. I believe that the actors on set during the filming of the play referred to it as "Death of a FUCKING Salesman." It is a not a radical play, by any means, but it is critical of certain aspects of American capitalism - especially Shelley Levene's (think I've spelled it right)fall in to criminality to pay for his daughter's medical bills.

Compared to Authur Miller's work, both artistically and politically, he falls short. But he is an interesting voice nonetheless.

He says that he is no longer a "brain-dead liberal," so I'm not sure he was a radical in the first place. Liberalism must not be confused with radical leftism. Anyhow, it's not much of a jump from a liberal to a neo-con. Just as it is easy for people over here to abandon New Labour for Cameron's conservatives: it's just a shuffling along a right-wing matrix.

And to be honest, I no longer know which political party is the most right wing in Britain anymore.

Anonymous said...

You can take him back whenever you want him. And please, just because someone is Jewish and NO LONGER a brain-dead 'progressive' doesn't make them a "neocon".

Frank Partisan said...

Seán: Stick with Labor. It still the first resort for political action for workers. The US has nothing resembling a labor party.

I liked Mamet's Spanish Prisoner and House of Games. They were realistic about the con.

FJ: I agree when conservatives as Buchanon call neoconservatives Trotskyist, it is code for anti-Semitism. I think the neoconservatism movement is split and discredited, making them run from that title. In the prewar buildup they had no problem with that label. Neoconservativism grew out of the Commentary Magazine as a trend. I'm not against using the term neoconservative, because I have respect for their tactics.

I'm surprised you are not pleased with Mamet. I would be if I was you.

Incognito said...

Was actually never that fond of Mamet.. but glad he's come over to our side.. :-) there are few of us, as you well know..

I actually posted on it, don't know if you read it or not..

Z said...

WHO doesn't support live theater?
I do.

Sincerely yours,
A devout Conservative

and fj's right.

Frank Partisan said...

Z: Thank you for visiting.

I don't understand why conservatives aren't shouting about a propaganda victory like that?

Personally I think none of his views changed, only his allegiance.

You don't like his work?

Incognito: I'll read your post.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with Seán here, this isn't such a major switch. Kind of reminds of me of the leader of the progressive socialist party in Lebanon, today's US neocons main ally in the country

sonia said...

How is it that someone of his abilities, becomes neoconservative? Just like John Steinbeck, who wrote Grapes of Wrath became anticommunist.

EVERYBODY is an anti-Communist, unless they don't know what Communism really is. Steinbeck became an anti-Communist when he realized the true nature of this evil system.

Similarly, every leftist who cares about improving people's lives is a neo-conservative in the making, unless the real reason they're leftists is because they want to enslave humanity.

Every neocon is a former leftist. And every decent leftist is a future neo-con.

Frank Partisan said...

Darkoysm: Mamet is a great writer. His turn to neoconservatism, isn't appreciated by the right. He didn't really change views, only allegiances. I'm a fan of his work.

Sonia: Atleast you are willing to use the word neoconservative. Funny FJ, Beakerkin and others run from that term. That might be due to their discredited strategies.

Every decent democrat with a small d, will see the neoconservative path won't bring freedom. It's only about free entrprise, not people.

Graeme said...

neoliberal and neoconservative seem to be the same damn thing.

liberal white boy said...

Why ask a question RE when you already know the answer? Like many of those old Trotskyists he fell in love with his genetic materials and became a neocon. I suspect that closeted Republican had the same problem. But I actually welcomed Mamet's turn to the right. Now when my girl friend wants to see one of his tedious plays I have the perfect excuse. I don't do neocons, not even play writes.

Seán said...

"And please, just because someone is Jewish and NO LONGER a brain-dead 'progressive' doesn't make them a 'neocon'."

I didn't know he was actually jewish. Not sure what you are insinuating, FJ.

You're right, Ren. he is a very good writer and it will be interesting if his work alters in the future. 'Spanish Prisoner' and 'House of Games' alongside The 'Grifters' are my favourite films about conmen.

Anonymous said...

I'm insinuating that not every Jewish ex-liberal can automatically be classified a neocon. What does David Mamet know of the philosophy of Leo Strauss? ZERO.

troutsky said...

I think FJ has it right, Mamet is infatuated with Wolfowitz and is searching for a brand. Reminds one of Hitchens (and sonia), equating totalitarianism with the slightest infringement on liberty.

Ducky's here said...

Mamet is the ass hat who called Thomas Sowell, "Our greatest philosopher".

We aren't dealing with deep thought here. His films suck too.

Ducky's here said...

Ah, favorite films about con men. Pity that George C. Scott's "The Flim Flam Man" isn't in print.

Meanwhile Bogdonavitch's "Paper Moon" will expose what a complete zero Mamet is.

Frank Partisan said...

I think Mamet is definitely a good writer. I think cynicism runs through all of his work.

Ducky: I like House of Games etc. You can't put Mamet's work in the same sentence as a movie like Paper Moon.

Sean: I agree.

FJ and Troutsky: Mamet's cynicism runs through his work so much, that whatever his political philosophy, cynicism makes him worthless.

LWB: I thought conservatives would be happy Mamet went public as neoconservative. I don't hate Mamet's plays.

Graeme: I have to think about if neoconservatism is neoliberalism. My instincts are that neoconservatism is a wing of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism may be the big umbrella.

Ducky's here said...

How does Mamet become an "ex liberal". This guy was never anything but a low rent libertarian. His writing has one basic theme, everyone screwing everyone else till there's one standing. He wants to be the one, he's a classic Randoid.

As far as comparing House of Games to the (great) Paper Moon. You have to remember that film is a VISUAL medium. Mamet hasn't been clued in on that yet.

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