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“It’s All Crazy”

[ 39 ] December 18, 2011 |

As always, what offends me most about the latest Mamet paroxysms highlighted by Anderson and Larison is not their remarkably wrongheaded politics but their utter banality. Or, more precisely, the banality combined with a particularly self-satisfied arrogance. It’s not just that he’s put forward the eight billionth howlingly inapposite Neville Chamberlain analogy, but that he seems convinced that this represents a profound contribution to American political discourse.

I’ll have a much more negative assessment of Hitchens than SEK in a bit, but it says something that even Hitch (not exactly immune to presenting shallow neocon lies as if he’s discovered the theory of relativity himself) could see right through Mamet.

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  1. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Given that unconditional support for Israel is the central obsession for many very successful people in the US, I do not find his statements surprising. It would be far more surprising to find somebody as successful as Mamet taking a position on Palestine similar to that of Rashid Khalidi. Remember Dershowitz has tenure at Harvard and Finkelstein was hounded out of US academia.

  2. Rick Massimo says:

    David Mamet has written some brilliant lampoons, and for that matter, direct attacks, on Hollywood celebrities who mouth political cliches they don’t even really understand. It’s a damn shame he’s turned into one of them.

  3. Rob says:

    I wonder if this is just another point in the star worshiping GOP mindset. Now that Mamet declared himself a conservative he is likely getting rave reviews of his deep political thinking by the right, something the apolitical Mamet never got in such gushing enthusiasm. We are talking about a political party that routinely supports actors for office and is willing to allow a clown like Trump to seriously run for president.

  4. TT says:

    “Or, more precisely, the banality combined with a particularly self-satisfied arrogance.”

    Yes. What virtually all neocons have in common is a Lake Michigan-sized reservoir of arrogance and self-congratulation, the belief that they and they alone understand history and thus have the courage to kill hordes of brown Moslem people. It is a site to behold.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      the belief that they and they alone understand history and thus have the courage to send other people’s children to kill hordes of brown Moslem people.

      FTFY

      • TT says:

        I think you’re taking the easy way out here. Eliot Cohen, Elliott Abrams, and Michael Ledeen all have sons who served in Iraq in the Army or Marine Corps. My beef isn’t with honorable choices their sons made (probably with their encouragement), it’s with their worldview and the disastrous consequences it has repeatedly spawned for our nation and for so many innocent people.

  5. c u n d gulag says:

    As a playwright, I really like some of his plays and his use of language. I acted in a few of his plays in Upstate NY.

    And in the prior post I talked about his books on acting, and how his own stated beliefs in them aren’t reflected by the actors he directs in films.

    Mamet’s also an immense asshole and a misogynist.

    We had approval, paid all the right’s fees, and rented out a place, and were well into rehearsal, for “American Buffalo” to be performed in Poughkeepsie, NY, back in the late ’90′s.

    About two weeks before we were to open, our Director got a notice suspending, for an indeterminate amount of time, the rights to ‘AB.”
    No one in the nation was allowed to perform the play!

    It turns out that some women, including a well known actress (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who), wanted to do an Off-Broadway, all-woman, version of “AB” – an idea that I thought was great!

    Well, not Mr. Mamet!

    No, he didn’t want the women to perform the play, and he said that he would never allow the rights to an all-woman version of either “AB” or “Glengarry Glenn Ross.”

    I suspect that he’s always been an asshole, but chose to hide some of that in more Liberal times.
    And what better time to come out of the closet as an major asshole, than in the last decade or so of these moronic, sphincterous times?

    • DocAmazing says:

      And what better time to come out of the closet as an major asshole, than in the last decade or so of these moronic, sphincterous times?

      That’s some fine Sunday-morning prose right there. You don’t need Mamet if you can write like that.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Even before his turn to the right, the closer Mamet’s plays (and screenplays) got to politics, the stupider they often got. Oleanna may be the single worst play of his I’ve ever seen or read. And though I found the film Homicide enjoyable enough, there was something fairly sulfurous about it.

      • Richard says:

        Even the non political movies have got worse. I love House of Games and Spanish Prisoner but that martial arts movie of a few years ago, name escapes me, was terrible.

      • c u n d gulag says:

        IB,
        Yeah, I saw a version in Kingston, NY, with a friend of mine who’s a terrific actress back in the early mid 90′s, and I HATED the play.

        It was both banal and obvious. God, it sucked!

        And, though I thought the movies he directed were ok, I never thought they were great. Sure, they were pretty interesting stories, but the acting was mechanical – at best. And, believe me, I’m being kind.

        Mamet should have followed the lead of JD Salinger, who, basically after saying what he was had to say, was smart enough to STFU, and let his silence be more eloquent than anything he could ever write.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

          Sure, they were pretty interesting stories, but the acting was mechanical – at best.

          Mamet often casts his significant others in his flicks. And for some reason, he seems to be attracted to some of the most mechanical actresses in cinematic history: e.g. Lindsay Crouse and Rebecca Pidgeon (though their performances in Mamet films are so mechanical that one has to conclude that he was encouraging this approach to the material).

          • SEK says:

            And for some reason, he seems to be attracted to some of the most mechanical actresses in cinematic history

            Asked and answered. They’re mechanical, so they talk like he writes. Makes directing that much easier. (Though I’ve got to say, at the risk of being an apostate, that I actually think Mamet’s made the best use of Beckettian rhythm since, well, Beckett. He’s an asshole — that’s always been clear — but there’s an artistry to his stiltedness. (When did I turn into some strange conservative apologist, damn it? That’s it, I’m going to spend the next week doing nothing but mock Big Hollywood.)

            • c u n d gulag says:

              SEK,
              I think you bring up a great point.

              If you look at Mamet’s “American Buffalo” and Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” they have a lot in common:
              The quick, rhythmic lines.
              Some vague plan/plot.
              The occasional long monologue.
              And waiting for someone who never arrives.

              And there, the similarity between the two ends – because Etragon and Vladimir are far more empathetic and human than Mamet’s grifters and scammers.

              Mamet V. Beckett?

              I’ll take Beckett every time – despite some of the “crazy” plays that he wrote, and how hard they are to direct and act in.

      • mark f says:

        And though I found the film Homicide enjoyable enough, there was something fairly sulfurous about it.

        Probably the fact that it’s utterly fucking bonkers.

  6. Bijan Parsia says:

    …but it says something that even Hitch (not exactly immune to presenting shallow neocon lies as if he’s discovered the theory of relativity himself) could see right through Mamet.

    But what does it say? Something like, “Hitchens can see the mote in Mamet’s eye, but not the beam in his own”? Ok, more like, ‘Hitchens can see the beam in Mamet’s eye but not the lumberyard in his own?”

    I mean, seeing through Mamet’s stuff is not exactly a difficult task…

  7. Tom M says:

    I should have realized it was behind the WSJ wall but a little warning would have saved a few clicks.
    Not that I need advice to avoid the Mamet, still….

  8. Manju says:

    Wow. Am I glad for this post.

    2 weeks ago I was sitting next to one of those famous guys who nobody knows. You know what I mean. Like if Steely Dan was walking down the street, who would recognize him?

    Anyway, my friends weren’t American so they didn’t even know they were supposed to know him. But he was old and had long hair, a clear sign of fame…unless the old hair is coupled with a bald top, in which case a clear sign of professorialness. Ergo, they believed me when I said he was famous. He went from being an unknown unknown to a known unknown, as one famous neocon might say.

    Well, I’ve been wracking my brains for 2 weeks trying to figure out who famous-guy was. Then along comes this post and I saw Olienna so I google it just for reminiscence sake and boom…big pic of William Macy.

  9. DrDick says:

    I quit listening to the political opinions of virtually all entertainers and artists decades ago. I applaud those who use their celebrity to promote good causes, but do not really take them seriously.

  10. Halloween Jack says:

    Still trying to figure out how it is that he and Frank Miller haven’t gotten together yet to do a graphic novel called SKREE MOOZLIMS SKREE.

  11. 4jkb4ia says:

    “If you have no idea what Mamet is talking about, you’re not alone.” Thermonuclear destruction in one sentence. Today I even visited jpost.com and it seemed like a remarkably ordinary day over there.

    Thanks for reminding me of that Hitchens review. It had absolute credibility when he was alive and reads better now that he is dead.

  12. [...] Millerian in its superficiality and laziness.” Well, except that it’s too kind — as with David Mamet, it’s so lazy and superficial it out-Millers [...]

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