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It’s fair to say, certainly, that Mamet’s body of work is less difficult to square with a turn toward conservatism than that of, say, Michael Moore. But how would we have read the same tea leaves sans the Village Voice piece? To double up on clichÃ©d metaphors, the eye of the beholder cuts both ways, and there are many reasons to suspect something new is happening here.
Hollywood is capitalism at its best: opposing forces working it out, using the tools of the marketplace. As such, it’s vastly messier than totalitarianism, but it kills a lot less people. — Mamet, interview, TimeOut New York, 2007
David Mamet appears to be a liberal who has been mugged…by success.
Through his early years of struggle and even well into his most successful theater years, Mamet, who only began writing seriously when the Chicago theater company he founded with his former student William H. Macy in 1972 couldn’t afford to pay royalties, harbored serious doubts as to whether modern capitalistic America had the capacity to reward a unique vision. This led to the writer spending much of his career throwing around terms such as lumpenproletariat and disdainfully shellacking the American ethic, which he distilled in Studies in American Drama (1984) as, “Your extremity is my opportunity…. One can only succeed, at the cost of, the failure of another…” A few years later Mamet confided to New Theater Quarterly, “In a very, very strictly structured, increasingly authoritarian environment, which is life in this country, if one pursues a career one of the main aspects of which is being an iconoclast one is not going to have the happiest time of it.”
Mamet, of course, proved spectacularly wrong on this point. While reasonable people may dispute the merits of his distinctive approach to dialogue — Ben Brantley praised it as “ingeniously ordered American street phrases and cadenced slang,” while Mamet told the Guardian he intended to create “a poetic restatement of my idea of how people talk” — few serious critics disagree that Mamet has created a world unto itself, fantastically intricate and instantly recognizable. Try to imagine the following lines from his 2001 film Heist, for example, in any other filmmaker’s work:
“I’m going to be as quiet as an ant pissing on cotton.”
“I want you to be as quiet as an ant not even thinking about pissing on cotton.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online