David Mamet and Me

mamet.jpgI have to get this off my chest before the election. I’ve been mad at David Mamet for a while now. I know I shouldn’t be: if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have won that playwriting award (twice). I can’t help it though. He’s disappointed me like if my oldest kid started coming home with F’s. No – like if Madeline Albright dropped states(wo)manship and took up juggling. No – that’s not right: juggling’s rough. Like if Madeline Albright took up hacky sacking. That’s what it’s like.

First there were the unfunny cartoons on the The Huffington Post. Diletantish but whatever. I got over it.

Then, in February, I made the mistake of going to see his new play, November, in its inaugural run on Broadway. It’s about an idiot president during his run for re-election. I ignored the mixed reviews and went because if there were ever a girl with a soft spot for Mamet, it’s me. I shouldn’t have ignored the reviews. It sucked. It was the worst thing I’ve seen in a long time. Was it really that bad? you may ask. Yes. Yes it was. Was it worse than the stuff I’ve seen at fringe festivals? Really? Honestly? Yes. Because, I expected more of him than his start-up brethren, that’s why.

In case I haven’t been clear, it was fucking terrible. It was glib, cheap and played to the worst of the audience. It said nothing important and it wasn’t even well-written. I cringed at every stupid, stupid punchline. If he weren’t David Mamet, it never would have made it to a reading, let alone the stage. (Of course, I’d like to be powerful enough to get whatever I write produced too, but with rights come responsibilities, David. Keep that in mind.)

Then, he published “Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal‘” in the Village Voice in March. He went from being someone who shared my liberal political views – regulated freedom and shared burden – to being a free-market conservative. He posits that the marketplace will work itself out without any regulation, whether you define the marketplace as an economy, a theater of actors or a stranded bus and its passengers, to pick up two of his examples. Let ’em fight it out without the benefit of a director or a bus driver.

(On a side note, Mamet’s a big fan of guns, which adds a level of threat to the proceedings that doesn’t help his case with me.)

I think we all now know where unfettered free markets have gotten us. Even Alan Greenspan’s not on that sinking ship anymore. And God love him for being willing to admit his mistake. Mamet says in his piece that he’s a fan of changing your mind once corrected. Maybe, in light of the collapse of the free market system, Mamet will come around too.

I don’t know if the banality and populist humor of November were a result of Mamet’s free-market thinking, i.e. I can get away with writing beneath my talents because people will pay for it. I hope so. Because that means that if he does change his mind again, his writing will improve. And I would like that. I really would.

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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany, Watch This

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