I’ve more than once found myself in arguments at bars that start out as civilized discussions of theater and What It Means To Us Today, and quickly devolve into screaming matches like this:
Argument Partner: MAMET
L: BORING AND REPETITIVE
L: UGH SAD MEN BEING SAD ABOUT BEING MEN
And then some cussing, to stay true to the playwright.
That pretty much sums up my feelings on Mamet, but in sentence form, here it is: David Mamet has a solid grasp of craft, and very often a witty turn of phrase or bitter monologue, but he doesn’t seem to like people very much, he has yet to conceive of a woman as a fully realized character, and his work leaves me exhausted and despondent. The message of his plays or movies generally seems to be, “Being a man is hard but instead of investigating why that might be or the different ways I might be a man and interact with others, I’m going to fuck up a lot and be angry about it.” Looking at it that way, he’s apparently Judd Apatow’s muse.
And now he’s come out as a cheerleader for Free Enterprise and an enemy of Higher Education. As Tom Scocca notes, Mamet’s new book on his conversion from indifferent Democrat to passionate Republican isn’t saying anything new that conservatives haven’t been saying for years, including the part where he doesn’t seem to have done much critical thinking (such as not recognizing that participating in a capitalist society doesn’t automatically preclude you from being able to oppose capitalism). His attacks on American universities are the same tripe you can hear on any conservative talk radio station–they make our children hate America! they actually prevent independent thinking!–and reveal a similarly disappointing investment in research, reflection, or dialogue with others.
Of course his liberal fans are going to be all torn up about this, because he’s a GENIUS who went to the OTHER SIDE, but it seems like a natural progression for me. Here’s a guy who saw that the world is very often fucked up, and that people do fucked up things to each other, but instead of investigating why this was so, or finding a solution, he just ranted and sulked. “Converting” to Republicanism just puts a political label on that kind of thinking.