Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I really do think there's something wrong with David Mamet

And not just because he's now a right-winger. Not even because he's so far right that he is an admirer of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. No, I think he has Alzheimer's and I predict that within the next five years it will be announced that he has it.

I've said that before, but I'm even more convinced now, since I discovered that his arguments against - and raw hatred of the Left - are so poor, so extreme that he is even embarrassing conservatives.

A Facebook friend posted a link to a review of Mamet's The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, in the American Conservative magazine. Scott Galupo writes:
Turgid when it’s not imperious, utterly lacking in fresh insight, full of breathtakingly stupid generalizations, The Secret Knowledge is, for a writer of Mamet’s caliber, nothing short of embarrassing. What is this thing?
Like I said - they're embarrassed. And no wonder:
The 63-year-old Mamet thinks he has a lot to say—there are stale-tasting gripes about feminism, affirmative action, abortion, and a jaded riff on the impracticality of liberal-arts education—but really he ends up saying the same thing over and over. In short: Capitalism, free markets, and families are part of the naturally evolved order of things, and liberals can’t do anything except screw up that ecological balance.
Well I called it over a year ago after I saw RACE - I said it was like a play written by a Teabagger. Except it wasn't LIKE a play written by a Teabagger - it IS a play written by a Teabagger. An extreme Teabagger. And I am convinced that he had Michelle Obama's thesis, scurrilously touted by right-wing talk radio as a hate-whitey polemic, in mind when he created the Susan character.

But since David Mamet is a Great Man of the Arts I'm sure he rarely hears criticism from anybody he deals with on a regular basis, and he gets most of his information, by his admission, from talk radio - right-wing talk radio. So as far as David Mamet can tell, he's the greatest thinker ever, people are lining up to kiss his Great Man of the Arts ass. So why shouldn't he just spout whatever comes into his head without any second thought?

And since he very likely has Alzheimer's, what comes into his head is a big jumble:
No, Mamet ventures far out of his comfort zone in this book. With startling self-assurance, he informs us that “polar bears are not, in fact, decreasing but increasing in population; the earth is not, in fact, warming.” And: “Carbon dioxide is not harmful to the atmosphere. There have, in the past, been periods, much colder than today, when the CO2 in the atmosphere was twenty-five times what it is today. Carbon emissions offer no threat whatever to the planet.”

How can Mamet possibly know this with such certainty? How much has this “reformed Liberal” thought about climate science at all? Whatever one’s opinion of global warming, and of the environmental movement more broadly, is it not obvious that Mamet is clutching a new holy book and believing everything in it as a matter of course?

Elsewhere Mamet declares that “Most legislation aimed at eliminating unhappiness and discontent has resulted in misery.”

“Most”? Really? A fair-minded liberal reader could be forgiven for wondering if Mamet would include, say, Social Security and Medicare. Sure, the old-age pension and healthcare programs have serious long-term financing problems that may come to bankrupt us. But have they resulted in “misery”? If so, why are they so darn popular?
And this is coming from a writer for the American Conservative.

Well it's common for old rich men to suddenly decide that it's time for those damn kids to get off their lawn, and I hadn't heard, but I'm not surprised by this bit of information from this same review:
Coming as it did on the heels of playwright Tom Stoppard’s denunciation of the British nanny state and self-identification as a “timid libertarian,”
So Tom Stoppard is an asshole too now. And speaking of Libertarians, those assholes at Reason, while having a few minor reservations, think Mamet's book is swell:
Readers on both sides of Mamet’s current political stance can take issue with his social conservatism. He is, among other things, an unbending proponent of traditional gender arrangements; and yet who even on the left can deny the miseries that have attended the decline of the two-parent family?
The decline of the two-parent family, as has been well-documented, is a function of poverty and of divorce. Mamet is divorced, naturally - right-wing men never have a problem with divorce in practice no matter how much they demonize it, or try to blame feminists for it, in their intellectually bankrupt theories.

This all confirms what I've said about OLEANNA - Mamet's creation "The Group" which controls Carol throughout the second half of the play, is a smearing caricature of feminism. But all the liberal Mamet fan-boys wouldn't hear it - Mamet was merely pointing out the dangers of political correctness. Well I'm sure they still don't want to hear it - and anyway, as long as Mamet is a bona fide Great Man of the Arts he will hang onto that asshole license the rest of his life, and any and all outrages will be forgiven. We've seen how that worked with Roman Polanski. If he can remain a Great Man of the Arts in good standing, with all the attendant perks and privileges, anybody can. And the eternally irritating John Lahr, that worshipper of all manly brutal manly playwrights, shows how it's done in his New Yorker review:
Is Charles guilty? Will Jack’s ingenious defense, revolving around the sequins on the black woman’s dress, work? The plot, such as it is, demonstrates the contention of Mamet’s Times piece, that “just as personal advantage was derived by whites from the defense of slavery and its continuation as Jim Crow and segregation, so too personal advantage, political advantage and indeed expression of deeply held belief may lead nonwhites to defense of positions that . . . will eventually be revealed as untenable.” In reality, Mamet would be hard pressed to defend his weasel words; onstage, where his story turns on racial profiling by blacks, he can make it seem plausible, if not persuasive.
He calmly acknowledges Mamet's outrageous racism in comparing slavery to some unspecified objectionable positions that some black people may hold. And the most he can say about it is that, well, at least Mamet makes it plausible on stage. And we'll never know if Mamet would be "hard-pressed" to defend himself - certainly John Lahr is never going to press him.

But mark my words - what this business with David Mamet is all about isn't so much an intellectual embrace of the principles of Conservatism, it's the sign of a cranky old man who is losing it. One more piece of evidence, a short article about Mamet's wife's music tour, also from the New Yorker:
The rest of Pidgeon’s tour was more mannerly. Its main complication was trying to conduct a life in two places. “I’m calling home a lot, but sometimes I don’t have time,” Pidgeon said. “Or the clock’s not right for West Coast time. My husband refuses to have a cell phone, or an answering machine in his office, and he turns off his phone when he works. So when he does call, he’ll call me all day until he reaches me. And then he says, ‘Where have you been, don’t you love me anymore?’ And of course there’s no way I can get him, so he doesn’t know I’ve called twenty times and let the phone ring and ring. ‘I called you back,’ I say stiffly.
I'd hit the road too if I was his wife. I hope for her sake she has a hot young man on the side, someone who's considerate and who is comfortable with modern technology, unlike old man Mamet.