David Mamet: From Scribe To Scrub
This week The Wall Street Journal described writer David Mamet as “A defiant scribe in the age of conformity” At the same time Mamet was appearing on Fox News and Joe Rogan. Mamet saying, “Teachers are inclined to pedophilia” Perpetuating right wing Q rhetoric and vocally supporting the Texas “Don’t Say Gay Bill” Mamet was also vocal in his support of Donald Trump saying, “He did a great job as President” This is who the Wall Street Journal thinks isn’t a conformist. I was shocked to hear of Mamet’s recent tour seemingly set up to either revive his flailing career or end it completely. Yet in thinking about Mamet’s work which lasts from 1976–2013 as a fan he was always clearly born in that Right Wing vein. Mamet wrote plays about angry white men who were up against a deadline and up against the wall. Usually in their work lives and typically because of elitist bosses and government attacks and red tape. I mistook Mamet for a Liberal when he is obviously a staunch Republican who uses his work to bait Liberal audiences into thinking the work is favoring them and then Mamet hits them in the face with a Conservative sucker punch. Mamet is comparable to another Republican writer and Filmmaker John Milius. Milius co-wrote the screenplay for Apocalypse Now and wrote and directed the conservative gun nut fantasy movie Red Dawn. Unlike Mamet Milius was always openly and vocally a Republican and had a predilection for putting is political beliefs into his films and screenplays. Milius was particularly fond of using big manly action, violence, and male rage. Mamet is similar however his action and violence are just mostly in his words. The famous scene in the film Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin goes on an angry abusive and expletive laced tangent toward the salesmen in the office was not a part of Mamet’s original play. There was a suggestion by one of the studio executives who was producing the film version of Glengarry that the movie was lacking something and that it needed some kind of action sequence. In response Mamet wrote that scene and that character in. Therefore, Mamet himself views that scene as an action scene. It’s a scene of male violence. It is very much akin to an action scene in a Milius movie like Conan the Barbarian or Red Dawn, yet Mamet is using his characters to stab other men figuratively instead of literally. Instead of a sword or a gun Mamet arms his male characters with the most horrible and abusive language that cuts and shoots just as deep if not deeper sometimes. Mamet’s interest had always been with men, mainly white men who hang onto conservative ideologies especially in the ways they deal with women, money, and other men. Mamet’s most successful work was his play Glengarry Glen Ross. The play was written and is set during the Reagan era where money became God and people like Donald Trump became heroes to men looking to build their wealth, stake their claim and get their toys. One of these toys they coveted were women who they looked at just like they did their money and the things they bought with them like conquests, objects, and trophy’s. Mamet won the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross, and he became the darling of white male theater critics. The men in Glengarry Glen Ross are also looking for these 1980’s possessions and they are lying, cheating, and stealing to get them. Mamet views the men in Glengarry as victims when the real victims are the people on the other end of those phone calls and on those leads who are being swindled by these crooked salesmen. Mamet seems to view these horrible men not making their fortune off of duped suckers as a tragedy when it’s really a success for someone who has avoided being ripped off by them. Instead of Alexander the Great conquering countries in the fields these salesmen and investors were conquering companies and buyers in wall street trading offices and were wearing Louis Vuitton’s instead of sandals. Oliver Stone who wrote the screenplay of Conan The Barbarian for John Milius to direct has a deep affection for Alexander The Great and even made a film based on his life. Stone made this very statement comparing wall street to war when after he made the Vietnam war epic Platoon. Stone’s next film was indeed Wall Street where Stone said that was where the next war was being fought except the battlefield was now the stock market. The women in that film are complete objects just as the money is. If you listen closely When Republicans describe women, they are always describing mothers and wives not necessarily women. They don’t seem to have any interest in women or even any understanding at all of women who are unattached from or even controlled by men. In fact, they have much disdain for them. Mamet often received praise from male critics in his writing about women as sex objects who are just as cunning as men and who use sex as their weapon against men, yet the men he draws always seem to be innocents who are taken aback and ambushed by these aggressive women and when the men realize that the women get to play by the same rules as they do they suddenly they don’t want to play the game anymore. This was considered innovative for some reason when really it was just another example of the flavor of the day. Mamet’s work might be beloved by men because it screams men are under attack. Under attack from women, from their country and from their government. The salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross gets cursed out and verbally abused by a rich guy in a suit who was sent by their bosses to light a fire under them while talking about how rich he is and how poor they are. But they don’t do anything about it. They sit there and take it. The Detectives in Mamet’s 1991 film Homicide say aloud that they could break more cases and find more suspects to do their jobs better it wasn’t for the lousy FBI and their pain in the ass superiors especially the black police captain who works for the mayor’s office interfering. These are Republican talking points to a T. Mamet’s work is full of sexual animosity toward women and also filled with racial animosity mostly toward black men and you can find these feeling seeping through into his work. The white men in Homicide stand up to black authority but in Glengarry none of the white men stand up to the abuse put on them by the white authority screaming in their faces. Mamet might use these formulas to express an interest in exposing racial inequality. But behind Mamet’s overt look at racism belies his more covert racism. In Homicide Mamet plays into the stereotype that black people are antisemitic. In Homicide The only black police detective openly calls the main character whose Jewish a “Kike” and as the black children are being arrested for the murder of a Jewish women who owns a store in their neighborhood. One kid says refers to her as “That Jewish Broad” the one with all the money. In another scene after the Jewish woman is found murdered A Black Police captain asks “What is this family doing in this neighborhood? I don’t get it” Every black character in the film vocally harangues Jewish people. Mamet may think he’s clever and getting over on people using both sides bigotry but read between the lines and he’s just another bigot hiding coded racism within his work. Critics were often over the top in their praise of Mamet’s dialogue and how “realistic” it is. When it is anything but realistic or authentic it almost seems like it’s coming from another planet. Even as a fan of Mamet I’ve never agreed with that particular praise or observation of his writing. His dialogue is great, but nobody talks like that outside of a David Mamet script. It seems to be another device the critics used to build up their white demigod. David Mamet’s script for the 1997 Anthony Hopkins movie The Edge which was originally entitled Bookworm features Hopkins as billionaire named Charles Morse who has supposedly read almost every book one can read. When the plane he’s flying in Alaska goes down from bird strike he’s left stranded in the wilds with two other ill-equipped men to try to survive on what he’s learned so far. The movie became a favorite of right-wing men who praised it up and down for showing the rich white guy as the hero instead of the villain and money as not an issue as long as you have a lot of it. But once again Mamet employs many racial stereotypes within the framework of the screenplay. The only black guy who is just there to get the white guys coffee dies first and a random exposing of antisemitism out of nowhere about “Jews and Taxes” Whether intentional or not Another Mamet story became a Republican hit. In 1997 Mamet also wrote the screenplay for the Barry Levinson directed film Wag the Dog. The film uses the President of the United States obviously modeled after Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky to expose DC Politics and Hollywood are similar and the media really decides what the public thinks by manipulating the coverage. Mamet is spot on in this observation. What Mamet leaves out of the film is the radical racism of The Republican Party. Instead, Mamet favors both sides do it narrative as no specific political party is ever mentioned in Wag The Dog yet it’s an obvious shot at Bill Clinton who was president at the time and at The Democratic Party. Mamet makes fun of “Liberal Hollywood” with a spoof of “We Are the World” and Mamet yet again uses Government institutions like The C.I.A as a villain who are keeping two hard working white men under the gun to get a job done. After making a goofy film about woman murdering record producer Phil Spector in 2013 Mamet has mostly been M.I.A. Not writing anything new for almost ten years. David Mamet can’t seem to write about today’s world anymore because he doesn’t know anything about it, he’s rejected it like the Republican party who can’t function in it anymore without lies and chaos. The audience for Mamet’s white man heroes and victims plays and movies is shrinking greatly. As Hollywood, the Theater and Audiences in America are becoming increasingly diverse. Mamet like many white men has painted himself into a corner he can’t get out of. Upholding white supremacy is the most conformist thing anyone can do, and Mamet was an ultimate conformist who conformed to writing white plays containing white stories about white men for white men and those white men are dwindling away. Mamet has only been thought of as some kind of rebellious voice by white male theater and movie critics and white journalists just because he uses a lot of foul language and dark overtones, and blames cancel culture on everything. How he is thought of as a man who has broken away from the herd would boggle the mind if you didn’t realize that all the people saying it have a personal stake in upholding whiteness and lifting it to the highest standards whether it deserves it or has reached that highest pitch or not. Mamet can’t seem to write much now so he’s grasped onto this P.C and Cancel Culture crutch that people like Bill Maher, Joe Rogan, The New York Times, and The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are all using to talk to Republicans and people like Mamet about the good old days. Just as their conservative Fathers and uncles and grandfathers did before them the white male American liberal has now reached the position of “I’m losing my country”. In spite of his Republican leanings David Mamet was a good and maybe Liberal writer once. He went from writing a Pulitzer Prize winning play to writing copy for Fox News and I’ve rarely seen such a horrendously ugly fall aside from Charles Morse in The Edge. Maybe life has moved on so much for David Mamet that he can only survive writing in the wilds of Fox News and making up stories set in the QAnon jungle. Or maybe he never did have many wits to survive on in the first place maybe he just had many whites to survive on. That’s right.