Thursday, May 26, 2011

More on Mamet's Conservative Conversion

There are two posts out there that call attention to some interesting paradoxes in David Mamet's new found conservatism, which is outlined in Andrew Ferguson's piece on the Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright in The Weekly Standard.

In that piece, as you can read here, Mamet credits the catalyst of his conversiion to an examination of the dichotomy of playwright Bertolt Brecht's personal life and his theater work.

Rob Weinhert-Kendt, writing on his blog, The Wicked Stage, wonders why Mamet didn't use a couple of targets closer to home:

The more I think about it, the more this feels like a bit of sleight of hand. Is Brecht really a relevant "father" for Mamet? Why not tackle two influences closer to home, like, say, Arthur Miller or Harold Pinter? Mamet owes each a huge debt as a dramatist, and both were men of the left. Not card-carrying Communists who eagerly submitted to living in a Soviet client state, mind you, just garden-variety lefties (with Pinter, by the end, representing a particularly thistly variety) who, while critical of Western democracies and capitalism, lived reasonably happy and productive lives within them.

Why, I wonder, wouldn't Mamet apply his newfangled rightwingery on two forebears so much closer to him aesthetically than the German epic poet? I can't say for sure, but I can venture a guess.

Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, George Hunka, writing at his blog Superfluities Redux points out some hypocrisy in Mamet's newfound embrace of the free market as the cure for the theater's woes.

All well and good — and quite consistent with Mamet’s recent turn of thought. On the other hand, if Mamet accuses Brecht of hypocritically biting the hand that feeds him — well, physician, heal thyself. If it were not for this non-profit, state-subsidized theatre, it’s unlikely that Mamet would even have a career, in the theatre or anywhere else. Almost all of his early plays were premiered in non-profit and state-subsidized institutions — American Buffalo received its mainstage premiere at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 1976, The Water Engine at New York’s Public Theater in 1977, and Glengarry Glen Ross in 1983 at the mother of all English-language state-subsidized theatres, London’s National — well insulated from the demands of the marketplace (at least then, in those happy days before regional and non-profit theatres sought to become more and more like their commercial cousins). So we await a statement from Mamet repudiating these earlier “pseudodramas” of his.


Thomas Garvey said...

You know what's funny? I almost wish Mamet DID have something to say that could revive conservatism! But this pouty "Stanford professors are hypocrites so I'm glad I voted for Bush!" is just pathetic. These days all we do is pray that the 'conservatives' aren't crazy enough to finish the job Bush started and push the U.S. into default (and basically end the Western economy as we know it). If only there WERE some coherent way to have a dialogue with them, and lure them away from the cliff! That would be worth reading about! So have AT that problem, Dave. But please, no more resentful emasculation-paranoia masquerading as a politics - PLEASE. (And no more Israel-lobby crypto-racist gibberish, either.) WRITE a play about the conflict between egalitarian practicality and - oh, whatever the hell it is you think Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are peddling. Only guess what - it won't be much of a play (although it will certainly be a farce).

Ian Thal said...

Come on, Tom! You act like Mamet had something interesting to say when he was on our side of the political spectrum! Maybe he voted the same way we did once upon a time, but did we really care what he thought about financial regulation, foreign policy, labor unions, or intellectual freedom?

There are plenty of playwrights whose political journeys would be interesting to discuss, if for no other reason than the fact they clearly have given politics a great deal of thought: say Kushner or Stoppard. But if anything, and you do allude to this quite well, Mamet's conversion isn't some intellectual encounter or moral reckoning: he's just into the coarse ranting of Beck and Limbaugh. Maybe if liberal pundits were more vulgar, we might have kept him in the fold! Get this man some Lenny Bruce and George Carlin records!