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May 17, 2011 11:09 PM   Subscribe

David Mamet, playwright and screenwriter has completed his migration to the right of the political spectrum. The Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson writes about it in "Converting Mamet."
posted by Trochanter (145 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
another old man with a get off my lawn sign.
posted by Shit Parade at 11:12 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a world we find terrifying, we ratify that which doesn't threaten us.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:12 PM on May 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yawn. A neo-con who's moved on from reacting against the '60s to reacting against the equally irrelevant political correctness of the '90s. Seriously, universities on the dole and the rich as the productive? In the modern era of Goldman Sachs and bonuses for destroying the economy?
posted by Schmucko at 11:26 PM on May 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


When people get old, their brains fucking fall out.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:29 PM on May 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


He told me he doesn’t read political blogs or magazines. “I drive around and listen to the talk show guys,” he said. “Beck, Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved.”


If this is not for material for his latest fictional douchebag character, but rather where he chooses to get his worldview from, then:

.
posted by lalochezia at 11:30 PM on May 17, 2011 [34 favorites]


When I heard about "Bambi VS Godzilla" I was super excited. Wow! David Mamet's going to tear Hollywood a new arse. The critics said it sucked, but I didn't listen.

It sucked.

"Dave. Your mind is going. I can feel it Dave."
posted by Trochanter at 11:31 PM on May 17, 2011


A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Crazy. Always be crazy. ALWAYS BE CRAZY.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 PM on May 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


When everybody I respected thought it was cool to be a liberal, I became a conservative. Because, you know, doing what nobody respects is cool.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:57 PM on May 17, 2011


Aha, the answer and why this is in "The Weekly Standard:
Mamet’s religious practice, along with his sensitivity to Israel, has deepened since he moved to Southern California and joined Ohr HaTorah. In 2006, he published a scorching book of essays, The Wicked Son, rebuking secular Jews for their (alleged) self-loathing and reluctance to defend Israel.
Get older
-> get more fearful of death
-> go to church/temple/masjid
-> get told what God demands to save you
-> become more rigid, tribalistic, and conservative.

Whether David Mamet or the Muslim engineer who decides to become a bomb maker.
posted by orthogonality at 12:01 AM on May 18, 2011 [27 favorites]


When people get old, their brains fucking fall out.

When my engineer grandfather was in his later years, his brain was still sharper than most. Mament is a rich guy who realized capitalism has been very good to him and seeks to defend it against his imaginary liberal strawmen.
posted by riruro at 12:09 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Christ, Now he's going to out the cart of his politics before the horse of his art, isn't he?
posted by KingEdRa at 12:11 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone who discovered the miracle of the US Constitution after the 2004 election and became a conservative for it has been affected by some kind of memetic disorder. Maybe its the same thing that got Dennis Miller. What is it this time, a doubling down on the lies of fear, as way to resolve the cognitive dissonance?

Because to support a Bush administration with its brazen disregard of the constitution ("its just a goddamned piece of paper"), while simultaneously discovering the beauty of the American system, is plainly inconsistent. Anyone who supported the constitution should have been outraged, and should have required that the rule of law be followed.
posted by cotterpin at 12:13 AM on May 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Maybe its the same thing that got Dennis Miller.

Fear of the Mooslim boogeyman?
posted by orthogonality at 12:18 AM on May 18, 2011


I find myself getting more liberal and fearing death less as I get older, even as I understand them darn kids less and less. I also find myself a bit more forgiving of stupidity on the part of the young and less forgiving of stupidity on the part of older folks.

Maybe it's because I'm not rich but not poor, and don't really see a bogeyman trying to keep me down or take me down.

So excuse me if I have little patience for the Mamets of the world as they descend into crazyville.
posted by maxwelton at 12:44 AM on May 18, 2011 [38 favorites]


I am so contrarian, you guys, that I'm contrary to being contrary. I'm contrary about being contrary. I'm metacontrary.

My liberal friends would spit at the mention of Sarah Palin’s name... I thought, oh my god, this is Trotter! This is the reaction of the herd instinct.

Or could it be that she's repellant? That all these people agree with one another, outside of any sort of contrived 'instinct?'

"Dave is a very thorough thinker,” Mordecai Finley told me, “but it never occurred to him that there might be another way to think about politics.”

Then I'm pretty sure he isn't a very thorough thinker.

He saw he was Talking Left and Living Right, a condition common among American liberals, particularly the wealthy among them, who can, for instance, want to impose diversity requirements on private companies while living in monochromatic neighborhoods, or vote against school vouchers while sending their kids to prep school, or shelter their income while advocating higher tax rates.

So either he could start Talking Right or Living Left. But who would ever want to Live Left???
posted by incessant at 12:47 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Trochanter, I also read (even worse, purchased) "Bambi VS Godzilla" with the same hopes. He struck me as a slightly gifted guy whose one flaw is that he thinks he is Einstein times Shakespeare squared. The book is basically a blog of his rambling, repetitive (and occasionally offensive) observations. It is not even well written.
posted by AndrewStephens at 1:10 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a great line as a scene-setter:

The wives were in wraparound skirts and had hair shorter than their husbands.
posted by criticalbill at 1:11 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


He saw he was Talking Left and Living Right

"Lying"
posted by fullerine at 1:30 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Put. That coffee. Down.

Coffee's for conservatives.

(from the article) They’d all say: ‘He lied about WMD.’ Okay. You love Kennedy. Kennedy didn’t write Profiles in Courage—he lied about that.

Ho-lee shit. Did he honestly just attempt to equate the hiring of a ghost writer with the "shame of our nation" clusterfuck that was the buildup to the Iraq war?

Was "Wag the Dog" actually a how-to manual?
posted by ShutterBun at 1:40 AM on May 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


Fear of the Mooslim boogeyman?

I think it's more of an nationalism derangement syndrome. I've asked myself, why is there *now* such a resurgence in patriotism, a fervor for limited government and an obsession with the constitution? One answer is that its because there's a Black Liberal Democrat in the White House.

But I think that's too simple. I don't think we'd have seen so much pro-constitution fervor if the previous administration didn't see ignoring the constitution as its duty. It's precisely because of the abuses of the Bush administration that conservatives are now in love with the constitution. To fall in love with the constitution now, you'd have to already have willfully ignored what was going on under Bush. That's the derangement.
posted by cotterpin at 2:12 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's precisely because of the abuses of the Bush administration that conservatives are now in love with the constitution.

Well, that and the fact that the current president is of a scarily un-Presidential skin colour. Sorry, did I say that? I meant a radical socialist Muslim atheist from Mars.
posted by acb at 2:23 AM on May 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Much like the bible, the Constitution is infallible, unchanging, unquestionable, and can be used to support pretty much whatever point you want to make on any given day.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:23 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Dave. Your mind is going. I can feel it Dave."

"David Mamet" is an anagram of "Dammit, Dave", which is also the title of a putative Mamet re-write of 2001: A Space Odyssey
posted by John Shaft at 2:26 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Put. That coffee. Down.

I can't hear that phrase without getting the Glengarry Ultimate Abuse Mix song stuck in my head. Thanks, you company man!
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:06 AM on May 18, 2011


I find myself getting more liberal and fearing death less as I get older, even as I understand them darn kids less and less. I also find myself a bit more forgiving of stupidity on the part of the young and less forgiving of stupidity on the part of older folks.

Maybe it's because I'm not rich but not poor, and don't really see a bogeyman trying to keep me down or take me down.
The interesting thing about the internet is that it allows everyone to have a voice, not just rich people. If you look at the "MSM", their current panic over the debt and mania for austerity (and an 'adult conversation' where the rich as parents lecture the poor in the foll of children on the virtues of sacrifice while taking away medicare to pay for their tax cuts) it's obviously that there is a great disconnect between them and the average person.

Anyway, rich old white guy realizes that the whole conservative edifice is there to benefit him and whaddya know? It turns out he starts to think it's a good idea.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 AM on May 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


Fuck you! I got mine!
posted by PenDevil at 3:16 AM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


When people get old, their brains fucking fall out.

Yeah, I guess reading anything Bertrand Russell published after he turned 30 is a waste.
posted by rodgerd at 3:28 AM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Artist who makes stuff you like turns out to be a fucking asshole.
News at eleven.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:41 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This makes me so sad. I've loved his writing for decades, and count "Glengarry" among my favorite films. Is there a better critique of unchecked capitalism than Jack Lemmon's portrayal of Shelley Levine? A proud man, weeping in a phone booth, begging the hospital to continue the care?

.
posted by jbickers at 3:57 AM on May 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


So, I guess I have misunderstood that movie for years.
Alec Baldwin's character was the hero?
posted by Auden at 4:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't meet your heroes, kids. Don't ever meet them.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:29 AM on May 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


And right at the end he says the world is cooling.

When your political switcheroo takes you into the denial of science, perhaps it's time to re-examine the re-examination.
posted by imperium at 4:29 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


He was always angry, then he became more religious and rich. Who would have ever seen this coming?
posted by jefeweiss at 5:15 AM on May 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Dave, I've got this fantastic idea, for a ... for a movie, if you will.

Unh-hunh. It's about a radical liberal organization which kidnaps the rich and those who have never known a day's want and swaps their identities with a homeless person. Then they have to survive, find a shelter, try to get back on their feet, and so on.

Right, sort of a Face/Off meets Trading Places. No Jamie Lee, though. It's pretty far along, but I think the dialogue needs work. Would you ...?

Yup. Got the metronome right here.

Okay, see you in an hour. Thanks, I appreciate it.

*thoughtfully fingers tire iron next to plump packages of Ringer's*
posted by adipocere at 5:21 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "Talking Left and Living Right" bullshit is along the lines of people pointing at Al Gore riding on airplanes. You know, if you care about the growing gap between rich and poor in this country, heaven help you if you're caught driving a halfway-decent car. CoffeeNice things isare for closerspeople who openly don't give a shit.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:22 AM on May 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


the country that existed in his once-fevered liberal imagination—a dystopia crippled by crises that required the immediate deployment of the federal government—bore little resemblance to the country in which he actually lived, where people interacted smoothly in the marketplace to their mutual benefit

He lives in a bubble, that is the only explanation. How can anyone look around them and see only "people interacting smoothly in the marketplace to their mutual benefit"? Christ. I have to look hard to see anything good about the marketplace. Capitalism from my angle looks very broken and an extremely poor base on which to build a country.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:22 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a great line as a scene-setter

That's not a "scene-setter." That's a smirking Weekly Standard stereotype, probably concocted out of whole cloth. I'd be really, really surprised if Stanford profs' wives had "wraparound skirts and hair shorter than their husbands'" or if the profs had "wispy beards and sandals-'n-socks footwear." And -- does he think that no women are on the faculty? If not, what were the female profs wearing? Bandanas, granny glasses, Birkenstocks, and Che T-shirts? This dude is talking about a different Stanford than the one I know. Actually, he's talking about a different university than most I know, period.
posted by blucevalo at 5:23 AM on May 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


blucevalo, I caught that as well. It's really more like a scene out of the 60's.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:25 AM on May 18, 2011


He told me he doesn’t read political blogs or magazines. “I drive around and listen to the talk show guys,” he said. “Beck, Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved.”

I've been known to occasionally listen to talk radio when driving. The one thing they all have in common is their lack of even internal consistency. They contradict themselves sometimes in the same sentence, then continue on without a moments notice.

The greatest joy the talkers have in life is to "piss off liberals", but listening to the storm of incoherence they are peddling generally invokes in this liberal not rage, but pity for listeners that are reassured in some way by this stream of nonsense.

Using these generic Lonesome Rhodes characters as sources for anything? Mamet is stating that thinking is turning out to be too much work, so he's decided to stop. Or he is suffering from an undiagnosed head injury.
posted by dglynn at 5:27 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In top of all that, regardless if his own merits as a playwright, he has inspired a lot of the worst, most mannered dialogue to come out of contemporary theater.

For years I have been wanting to make a sign I can hold up when I am responding to plays. It would be the Hindenberg, but with David Mamet's face. And instead if saying "Oh the humanity," it would instead read "Oh, it's just too Mamety."
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:27 AM on May 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


War is sped-up demographics. Where did I hear that from? Don't know. But politics are demographics, too. The Baby Boomers were given so much in terms of capital and opportunity by the generation that came before them, and in their great beneficence, they have decided to keep it all for themselves. The next 30-40 years is going to be a battle between the over-privileged Boomers demanding more and more from the rest of us. Mamet's conversion is not extraordinary - in time it will see very ordinary.

However. I did rewatch House of Games last night. Damn good movie.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:46 AM on May 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, Mamet's plays take a dark and pessimistic view of human nature, so I suppose it's not so surprising that he should be drawn to a dark and pessimistic political creed. What surprises me is that he sounds so pleased about it.
posted by verstegan at 5:53 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess reading anything Bertrand Russell published after he turned 30 is a waste.

W-wait just a sec. Over 30 is "old" now?
posted by aught at 5:53 AM on May 18, 2011


Also, it's nice the article included a picture of him with his daughter and grandson.
posted by aught at 5:55 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you look at the "MSM", their current panic over the debt and mania for austerity

This is just another excuse to cut social programs and privatize government. Republicans have NEVER given a shit about the deficit or the debt. The plan since the days of Reagan has always been to starve the beast any way, any how. That's the entire reason they started the Tea Party. Pretty sickening how the Democrats and Obama just take the bait when they know full well this is the Republican's goal. It just gives me more proof that the two parties are in collusion.
posted by any major dude at 5:56 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


When people get old, their brains fucking fall out.

Then they better invent some kind of vaccine or it will happen to you, too.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:00 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Rich old man adopts stereotypical political beliefs and talking points of rich, old."
posted by deanc at 6:09 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christ, what an asshole
posted by sid at 6:09 AM on May 18, 2011


I think he is right about Brecht (and it doesn't mean that Brecht was not an amazing playwright with an enormous amount to say about sex and money--but that most people are intensely hypocritical about political presentation) . I think that the nominal left, with no genuine push towards action, and a profound hypocrisy about class is present. I also think that there is a genuine dearth of conservative artists in Broadway and in Hollywood, and those voices just don't get heard, and if art is about reflecting the human condition, there should be a wider range or ideas and concepts.

I'm really left, and Canadian, but I want to hear the left say sometimes, Sacco and Vanzetti may have been guilty, and Alger Hiss surely was, and Ethel Rosenberg was not martyred by the state--and as much as Kushner is a hero of mine, having choruses of Kushner does not accurately mirror the nature of the American experiment. (and Kushner's Rosenberg in Angel's was wilier and more complicated, and more difficult than we let on)

All of that said, Mamet has never been anything less than conservative, or about preserving capitalist values, and he ironically, provides a corrective to Brecht's humanity with a bracing cynicism. We could go through the list of works that establish conservative values, but look at his adaptation of the Winslow Boy, with it's critique of unmovable social class, the power of money, and honour--its a profoundly epically conservative film, and it's fucking brilliant. (I keep thinking that he hasn't done anything interesting since that, but I really liked Redbelt from last year, so maybe I'm wrong there)

Plus, Glenn Beck talks like a wonderfully unhinged Mamet character.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:09 AM on May 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


"All I do is write every day,” he said, as he unlocked the door to the townhouse that serves as his office. “I sit in here and write. I don’t see anybody. I don’t socialize. I read, and I write, and then I go home to my wife.”

This is why.
posted by fuq at 6:19 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


> W-wait just a sec. Over 30 is "old" now?

Once the Little War is over, 30 will be "renewed 9 years ago".
posted by davelog at 6:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mamet may be thinking clearly enough now that we could tell him twitter is a search engine.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm with you PinkMoose. I work in the theatre. Most of my friends work in the theatre. We're all Liberals. Almost everyone in the business is a Liberal. Most of the writers are Liberals. A gazillion people are putting on productions with Liberal themes for Liberal audiences, preaching to the choir. I'm bored by looking at myself in the mirror.
posted by grumblebee at 6:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks Grumblebee
posted by PinkMoose at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2011


I think he is right about Brecht

Here's the thing: Mamet and Brecht both made their money off of intellectual property, and thus only made as much money as the government was willing to allow and were only able to have their property recognized and protected because the government invented an infrastructure that allowed it. It's the most government-invented form of property that there is.
posted by deanc at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


When people get old, their brains fucking fall out.

Bullshit.

Now you have to apologize to my 78 year old Mom. She had to stop watching the news 2000-2008 because it was too tiring yelling "Bullshit" at all the idiots in charge. Yes, her lungs are falling out, but the brain is doing fucking fine.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:28 AM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I kind of agree with you, too, PinkMoose, although this obviously isn't the best exposition of the point. I wish there were smarter, better conservative voices to sway our elders than what we've got.
posted by ~ at 6:34 AM on May 18, 2011


Alec Baldwin's character was the hero?

I have never thought about it that way. But now that you mention it, maybe he is.

Of all the characters, he is the most clear-sighted about his circumstances and the most effective at coping with them.

That he is a pitiless bastard is simply the inevitable consequence.
posted by Trurl at 6:39 AM on May 18, 2011


I'm really left, and Canadian, but I want to hear the left say sometimes, Sacco and Vanzetti may have been guilty, and Alger Hiss surely was, and Ethel Rosenberg was not martyred by the state

i'm really left, and 53, and have no idea why any of this is relevant to the world we live in today
posted by pyramid termite at 6:44 AM on May 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'll reiterate what I said previously:
… when he says "As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart" I see someone who is studiously self-unaware. Mamet thinks people are generally good at heart? David fucking Mamet? His body of work displays such a plain contempt for human nature that I can only conclude his own life had been completely unexamined. Until he decided he's a conservative.

And now that he's a conservative, he thinks that government is basically corrupt, and that people can be trusted to do what's right. What intellectual journey has just taken place? None. He's just changed jerseys.
posted by adamrice at 6:45 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


>> Here's the thing: Mamet and Brecht both made their money off of intellectual property

Brecht made money? Well of course he did, he had to have. But he was primarily a playwright and didn't have an income any way comparable to Mamet who has spent half a lifetime working in movies and TV.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:52 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mamet's "conversion" is exactly the right word to describe it. His position is entirely theological and that's why he talks around it in anecdotal book recommendations. I almost couldn't believe it when he was quoted as interrogating his friends about their dislike of Bush, as if it was irrational to dislike an incompetent playboy puppet and son who automatically lowered taxes for the rich and started two wars for the base. Also, preaching about "unconstrained visions" is a pseudo-intellectual allegiance to a shallow and religious pro-life populism.
posted by Brian B. at 6:56 AM on May 18, 2011


This is new? I'ts been a long time since I read it, but I remember Oleanna being pretty conservative and that was what, 1994?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:00 AM on May 18, 2011


He withdrew from his jacket a sheaf of papers that quickly became disarranged. He lost his place often. He stumbled over his sentences.

This is what we used to call "a series of small strokes."
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:02 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This thread illustrates at least one piece of the article:
Dave thought What’s the Matter with Kansas? had the answer for why people could even think to vote for a Republican—it’s because they’re duped by capitalist fat cats. I tried to tell him that people really weren’t that stupid. They just have other interests, other values. They’re values voters.
If someone buys into a conservative idea, he is either evil or stupid. QED.
posted by cribcage at 7:13 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get older
-> get more fearful of death
-> go to church/temple/masjid
-> get told what God demands to save you
-> become more rigid, tribalistic, and conservative.


You are aware that Judaism (much like Islam) is not evangelical Christianity, right? And that statements like "get told what God demands to save you" is just totally absurd in the context of a religion that, excepting its most out-there forms, doesn't actually believe in hell/the afterlife. I'm always amazed that folks believe this sort of reductionist bullshit. In this case, it's particularly absurd when you compare this to other similar cases, like, oh, this guy.

You know what I think? I think a guy whose work has always been unbearably sexist celebrations of hypermasculine pissing wars is about the most likely candidate to be a "surprise conservative." I would be similarly unsurprised to see Quentin Tarantino talking about how he thinks we should get some guys to go and bomb and shoot the fuck out of all those Arabs. Chalk this up in the same category as Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Bruce Willis' support of the NRA, or John Wayne, or Ronald Reagan, for that matter.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 7:15 AM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


The greatest joy the talkers have in life is to "piss off liberals", but listening to the storm of incoherence they are peddling generally invokes in this liberal not rage, but pity for listeners that are reassured in some way by this stream of nonsense.

It's like I've said before, ressentiment. It's what's for dinner. This mixture of rage, fear, helplessness, and identity politics, inflected by fantasies of victimization and superiority, is becoming a habitual attitude on the right. It's rank tribalism and it's certainly as poisonous to civil society, probably much more so, than any instance of "political correctness" ever was.

I'm really left, and Canadian, but I want to hear the left say sometimes, Sacco and Vanzetti may have been guilty, and Alger Hiss surely was, and Ethel Rosenberg was not martyred by the state

Eh. If you're really left, you're probably leftier than I am, and I confess that I have no idea what it would mean for "the left" to say these things or why I should want it to. Historians, including, presumably, historians with left-liberal credentials, have said these things. Not only are these propositions not terribly controversial, they don't seem terribly relevant to the world in 2011.

I also think that there is a genuine dearth of conservative artists in Broadway and in Hollywood, and those voices just don't get heard, and if art is about reflecting the human condition, there should be a wider range or ideas and concepts.

Whenever I hear complaints about the lack of conservatives in the arts or in Hollywood (by conservatives usually), I think "Well, then get out there and make your art or your movies! No one's stopping you!" What a lot of these complainers want, I think, is artistic success because of their "conservatism," which is funny, because that's exactly the sort of thing they affect to despise from anyone else.

As far as Mamet goes, much as I love his ear for language, none of this is surprising. I think I was surprised twenty years ago to learn that he wasn't one of his characters. I'm not at all surprised now to learn that he wants to be one.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:50 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


PinkMoose: I also think that there is a genuine dearth of conservative artists in Broadway and in Hollywood, and those voices just don't get heard, and if art is about reflecting the human condition, there should be a wider range or ideas and concepts.

There is a dearth of material that comes out of Hollywood and Broadway and succeeds and is "art" that reflects the human condition in the first place, regardless of whether it's conservative enough or not.

pyramid termite: i'm really left, and 53, and have no idea why any of this is relevant to the world we live in today

Exactly. The only people who are fighting about Alger Hiss and Sacco and Vanzetti anymore (or even know who these people were) are intellectuals and artists, like Mamet's elitist wine-sipping liberal friends in the People's Republic of Santa Monica, the ones he imagines are ganging up on him for being too right-wing, and even those people have mostly moved on to greener pastures. I don't think even Michael Medved cares anymore about whether Ethel Rosenberg was a cancer on the country's soul or not, unless she's being made the heroine of a Michael Moore movie or something.

Subcommandante Cheese: Chalk this up in the same category as Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Bruce Willis' support of the NRA, or John Wayne, or Ronald Reagan, for that matter.

You mean the same rugged conservative Schwarzenegger who framed himself as the emperor of green energy, fathered a love child with a member of his housekeeping staff, commuted the felony sentence of the son of a Democratic Assembly speaker, and ended up making enemies of almost everyone in the California GOP by the time he left office in disgrace?

I don't know. This whole slavering Weekly Standard paean to Mamet is just bizarre in too many ways to count. I mean, Speed-the-Plow is the "most merciless Hollywood satire ever written"? Really? Whittaker Chambers' memoir changed Mamet's life? Mamet's a "hairy-chested scribbler" who yells "Fuck you" at his hearing aid? This shit is, or should be, an embarrassment to Mamet, not a tribute.
posted by blucevalo at 7:51 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


cribcage: If someone buys into a conservative idea, he is either evil or stupid. QED.

That straw man won't even stand up. There are conservative Democrats, just as there used to be liberal Republicans. The passage that you cite shows Mamet's rabbi completely, thoroughly missing the thesis of What's the Matter with Kansas?: that so-called "values voters" vote for people who work against their economic interests because they simply don't believe that their economic status can be improved, and they redirect their anger at "liberal elites" and vote for conservative candidates who promise to address social issues, even though they don't, for the most part, and instead make things even worse for the working class economically, thus perpetuating the cycle. Never mind reading the book, I wonder if Rabbi Finley even read the dust jacket.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are there seriously liberals running around saying that convicted anarchist murderers Sacco and Vanzetti aren't guilty? What kind of straw man bullshit is that?
posted by grubi at 8:00 AM on May 18, 2011


maxwelton : I find myself getting more liberal and fearing death less as I get older, even as I understand them darn kids less and less.

I'm undergoing a similar shift, so I hear you and I'm glad to see I'm not some kind of weird anomaly. (well, not for this particular reason, anyways.)

I'm sad about Mamet's apparent shift, but it doesn't affect me much; once you start ignoring science and making ridiculous false equivalences, I'm going to stop listening or caring what you have to say, no matter how many movies you've made that I've liked.
posted by quin at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2011


The braineater is a terrible thing to witness.
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


That straw man won't even stand up.

Straw man? Read this thread.
posted by cribcage at 8:28 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW, anyone else have the experience of reading Godzilla Vs Bambi, expecting something like Adventures in the Screentrade, and dropping it part way through when it became apparent that it was just a series of boring reactionary rants? I hate to think he's gotten worse than that.

Still, still a great, whatever the ravages of time have done to him.

.
posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on May 18, 2011


Oh, I see Trochantor did.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on May 18, 2011


I am old, you can play on my lawn any time. Bring your kids and pets too !:-) My parents died at 92 and 88 with their liberal beliefs and love of the younger generations intact. My dad was disgusted with the other members of Senior Citizens who did not want to support school budgets because their kids were done with them. His theory was that those who were nasty, crabby, and conservative old farts had generally been selfish creeps when they were young as well. Age did not cause old fartyness, it just magnified what was already there.
posted by mermayd at 8:34 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
--Upton Sinclair

The most poignant illustrator of cynicism in our time, David Mamet, falls prey to the Galtian Myth. He has earned his success, true enough. And now he'll trade reason and basic human decency to protect what he has earned.

"I didn't sell out, son. I bought in."
posted by Xoebe at 8:34 AM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I finished BvG, ArtW, but it was a reaaal let down. I came away thinking a lot less of him as an intellect.

What I'd like to ask is what theatre people here think of his later plays.
posted by Trochanter at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2011


I'm with you PinkMoose. I work in the theatre. Most of my friends work in the theatre. We're all Liberals. Almost everyone in the business is a Liberal. Most of the writers are Liberals. A gazillion people are putting on productions with Liberal themes for Liberal audiences, preaching to the choir. I'm bored by looking at myself in the mirror.

One reason that could be is because the best art is about pushing boundries out, finding new points of view and new territories of thought, revising one's opinion about life itself, for better or worse. The core tenets of conservative ideology are maintaining the status quo, preserving tradition, the entrenchment of power. If liberal art leaves you bored while looking in the mirror, that's because it's not trying hard enough or saying something true enough. Conservative art at it's best would be spitting into one's palm and then jerking off in a frenzy while staring in that same mirror.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is the guy who wrote Oleanna, right? The play where a young over-educated feminist tries to bring down a wonderful male professor?

Why is anybody surprised?
posted by Avenger at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here are some “conservative” points that may be more pertinent to today’s leftist:
- Margaret Thatcher was right that Labour needed a few good drubbings to get some sense knocked into it.
- The theory of evolution is scientifically ludicrous and politically poisonous.
- Materialism is a problem for which the only solution is reinvigorated spirituality.
- Degraded attitudes toward sex are responsible for the greater part of our social problems.
Plenty in there for high drama, I should think.
posted by No Robots at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2011


I'm with you PinkMoose. I work in the theatre. Most of my friends work in the theatre. We're all Liberals. Almost everyone in the business is a Liberal. Most of the writers are Liberals. A gazillion people are putting on productions with Liberal themes for Liberal audiences, preaching to the choir. I'm bored by looking at myself in the mirror.

This viewpoint baffles me. Are you also bored that you surround yourself entirely with round-earthers? Do you wish the theater had room for more flat-earther perspectives?
posted by enn at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This viewpoint baffles me. Are you also bored that you surround yourself entirely with round-earthers? Do you wish the theater had room for more flat-earther perspectives?

While it just so happens that "liberals" have basically absorbed all of America's empiricists, grumblebee sounds like he's complaining not that he doesn't have enough anti-evolutionists among his drama colleagues but (correct me if I'm wrong) that he's surrounded by a rather limited cultural milieu which happens to be liberal but is nonetheless a pretty limited cultural slice of the world (granted, that cultural slice is "the sort of people who move to NYC and get involved in theatre", so by definition it's going to be a bit limiting). This isn't about a complaint that there aren't enough plays deriding global warming ("Made Possible with a Grant From Exxon®!").
posted by deanc at 8:57 AM on May 18, 2011


No Robots, was that some kind of a joke? If so, I don't get it.
posted by lackutrol at 9:04 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


While it just so happens that "liberals" have basically absorbed all of America's empiricists

What does this even mean?

grumblebee sounds like he's complaining not that he doesn't have enough anti-evolutionists among his drama colleagues but (correct me if I'm wrong) that he's surrounded by a rather limited cultural milieu which happens to be liberal but is nonetheless a pretty limited cultural slice of the world (granted, that cultural slice is "the sort of people who move to NYC and get involved in theatre", so by definition it's going to be a bit limiting).

Oh, yes, the "people who move to NYC and get involved in theatre." THOSE people. *Shudder*
posted by blucevalo at 9:04 AM on May 18, 2011


No Robots, was that some kind of a joke? If so, I don't get it.

That reminds me of the time a reporter asked the same question of one of my all-time favorite leftists, Dave Barrett, who answered, "You're the joke."
posted by No Robots at 9:07 AM on May 18, 2011


I was wondering this morning, "why should a tolerant perspective include tolerance for the intolerant?" It is like, let's fight, I will not shoot you because I don't like guns but you can shoot me because I don't think it is right to keep you from doing what you believe in, now let's see who wins: BANG. How is this sensible?

There's probably a doctoral thesisNobel prize in a well supported answer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:08 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, now that's just rude.
posted by lackutrol at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2011


Those conservative points are very pertinent to the modern liberal viewpoint, in that they are high up on the list of 'stupid shit we need people to stop purporting before they destroy the planet.'
posted by FatherDagon at 9:10 AM on May 18, 2011


While it just so happens that "liberals" have basically absorbed all of America's empiricists

What does this even mean?
It means that in America, if you believe in studying various courses of action and their consequences (political, economic, scientific) and making decisions based on the best available data, then you pretty much fall on the liberal side of the political divide. This has occurred do to various circumstances, but it doesn't mean that empiricism itself means that you can't be conservative; it just worked out that way in the USA at the present moment. It's not fair to argue with grumblebee's complaints that he wishes there were more right-wing conservatives promoting false talking points. I got the impression that he's simply bored with dealing with the same people from the same backgrounds who have the same experiences and same mindsets... which happens to be a certain subset of liberalism-of-the-sort-you-find-among-people-who-moved-to-Manhattan-to-get-involved-in-theatre. (grumblebee can jump in to correct me if my take on his comment is wrong, here)
posted by deanc at 9:19 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the guy who wrote Oleanna, right? The play where a young over-educated feminist tries to bring down a wonderful male professor?

Why is anybody surprised?
posted by Avenger at 8:45 AM on May 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


See, that's the sad thing: Oleanna is such a marvelously written play, so nuanced that virtually everyone I've talked to about it has differing opinions. It's an interesting rorshach test.

To play devil's advocate to your reading, one of the major act one plot points is the fact that she has an extremely uncomfortable near-reveal of some incredibly personal information to this guy she doesn't know all that well and it scares the shit out of her. Offstage, she joins a student organization that opposes this prof in part due to this personal information, and my reading was always that the student org is putting her up to most of what she does in the second half. Plus, over-educated? Is she? It's hard to tell if she's actually learning things from university, from this guy. She has to read from her notes, after all, she can't actually remember any thoughts she's had in class. And is he really a wonderful prof? I always read him as a bit of a self-important douche, honestly, though it does depend on who's playing the part. Plus, where do you get 'feminist'? The student doesn't strike me as particularly feminist.

I say it's sad above because it will be damn near impossible not to immediately jump to Avenger's reading of the play now that we know Mamet's politics.
posted by Ndwright at 9:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really all you need to know is that David Mamet not only wrote this line but then directed the actor saying it in a majorish motion picture.

My motherfucker is so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on May 18, 2011


My motherfucker is so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him.

I love that line, but like much of Mamet's oeuvre, if you spend five seconds thinking about it, it makes absolutely no sense at all. This is true of not only the majority of his dialog, but his plots as well. Have you seen any of his con/crime movies? They're so convoluted that it would require the protagonist to be Godlike in his foresight to be able to make the dominoes fall the way they do.

Don't get me wrong, I love his stuff, but they're constructed so far outside of the realm of reality as to be almost science-fiction. Which maybe makes his recent political views seem in-step with his whole life.
posted by nushustu at 9:37 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry to ask such a simpleminded questions, but what do conservatives (at least in their modern American incarnation -- the type of guys Mamet listens to) have to contribute to the arts?

I'm probably setting up my own strawman here, but I can't imagine a mindset more fundamentally hostile to the very project of art as a humanistic endeavor. Can you imagine visiting a museum with Rush Limbaugh or sitting down to discuss literary classics with Glenn Beck?
posted by treepour at 9:42 AM on May 18, 2011


You're making the mistake of describing Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as "conservatives." They're opportunistic rabblerousing fearmongers, but I can guess that many people who are intellectually conservative would disown these fools in a minute.
posted by blucevalo at 9:50 AM on May 18, 2011


I got the impression that he's simply bored with dealing with the same people from the same backgrounds who have the same experiences and same mindsets... which happens to be a certain subset of liberalism-of-the-sort-you-find-among-people-who-moved-to-Manhattan-to-get-involved-in-theatre.

That's a fair point. I misinterpreted what you were saying.
posted by blucevalo at 9:52 AM on May 18, 2011


While it just so happens that "liberals" have basically absorbed all of America's empiricists

What does this even mean?


Something like liberals being limited because they are (to paraphrase, who was it, Rove?) "reality based," perhaps.
posted by aught at 10:07 AM on May 18, 2011


but they're constructed so far outside of the realm of reality as to be almost science-fiction

Thanks, Margaret Atwood.
posted by aught at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2011


Kushner, the other great American playwright, and the one Mamet puts himself next to, and the one whose major work features a discussion of the historical left, with Ethel goddamned Rosenberg as a major feature.

The american left has less of a cultural memory then it used to, but growing up, there were a set of secular saints, that had work built upon them. there has not been recontextualizing work about these people, since the creation and stabilizing of thenier narratives in the 60s and 70s.

One of the things that conserative art could do, is to rework the cultural memetic history of the left, that controls much of the discourse in american theatre and film.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I don't blame him too much. Living in Santa Monica is enough to turn any rational person into an angry conservative.
posted by koeselitz at 10:14 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


the left, that controls much of the discourse in american theatre and film.

I don't buy that one bit. Broadway's about "Lion King" and "Spiderman", and movies are about things getting blowed up, or His Royal Highness getting his stutter fixed and the Queen mom's not at all stuck up.

Not one bit.
posted by Trochanter at 10:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the things that conserative art could do, is to rework the cultural memetic history of the left, that controls much of the discourse in american theatre and film.

Oh, there's tons of things conservative 'art' could do, the question is whether it's good or not, and that's the slippery thing. Conservative fashion, for example, has some highlights of spectacular design, the effects of which are still felt today... obscure godwin
posted by FatherDagon at 10:22 AM on May 18, 2011


Now I'm left missing the days when Frank Miller was actually good.
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on May 18, 2011


with Ethel goddamned Rosenberg as a major feature.

Yes, Ethel goddamned Rosenberg. Who appears in one hugely famous Tony Kushner play and in Mike Nichols casting Meryl Streep as her in the movie version. That's about the sum of the work built upon her since the 1950s. Where else in popular culture is she lionized (and I'm not talking about academic treatises)?

growing up, there were a set of secular saints, that had work built upon them

Like who?

One of the things that conserative art could do, is to rework the cultural memetic history of the left, that controls much of the discourse in american theatre and film.

Controls the cultural discourse? How? In what way? The only "saints" I see lionized in the dominant cultural discourse these days, to the extent that cultural discourse bothers to look backward at all, are Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, King George VI, and anybody else who blasted Nazis with machine guns, punched dirty hippies, kicked disco misfits to the curb, and made America the shining city of the hill. Doesn't sound like a leftist cultural discourse to me.
posted by blucevalo at 10:23 AM on May 18, 2011


ENGINEERS OF THE HUMAN SOUL!
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on May 18, 2011


Are there seriously liberals running around saying that convicted anarchist murderers Sacco and Vanzetti aren't guilty? What kind of straw man bullshit is that?

Yeah, there are people running around actually imagining that sometimes people are convicted who weren't guilty. Or that the police and courts have sometimes railroaded easy scapegoats in a desire to produce a conclusive-seeming conviction for a high-profile crime. And that this might have happened to one or both of Sacco and Vanzetti, whose alibis placing them elsewhere at the time of the crime were more substantial than any of the evidence placing them there, and whose guns weren't conclusively proven to have been used in the crime. Crazy talk!
posted by Zed at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mamet, from article: “So I was watching the [2008] debates. My liberal friends would spit at the mention of Sarah Palin’s name. Or they would literally mime the act of vomiting. We’re watching the debates and one of my friends pretends to vomit and says, ‘I have to leave the room.’ I thought, oh my god, this is Trotter! This is the reaction of the herd instinct. When a sheep discovers a wolf in the fold, it vomits to ward off the attacker. It’s a sign that their position in the herd is threatened.”

It sounds like the problem is that David Mamet is surrounded by liberal assholes. Joining hands with conservative assholes is not going to solve David Mamet's problem, methinks.
posted by koeselitz at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought, oh my god, this is Trotter! This is the reaction of the herd instinct. When a sheep discovers a wolf in the fold, it vomits to ward off the attacker. It’s a sign that their position in the herd is threatened.

What is it with him and sheep?
posted by The Whelk at 10:35 AM on May 18, 2011


@bluecalvo - You're making the mistake of describing Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as "conservatives." They're opportunistic rabblerousing fearmongers, but I can guess that many people who are intellectually conservative would disown these fools in a minute.

Could you please point me to the place where George Will, Charles Krauthaumer, Ross Douthat, David Brooks and other vociferously and publicly denounce the constant fear-monger and fact-free blather coming out of the likes of Beck and Limbaugh.

That's one of the main problems with our overall political discourse - irresponsible demagoguery is now swiftly and decisively denounced by people who should no better.
posted by brookeb at 10:37 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


@bluecalvo - You're making the mistake of describing Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as "conservatives." They're opportunistic rabblerousing fearmongers, but I can guess that many people who are intellectually conservative would disown these fools in a minute.

Could you please point me to the place where George Will, Charles Krauthaumer, Ross Douthat, David Brooks and other vociferously and publicly denounce the constant fear-monger and fact-free blather coming out of the likes of Beck and Limbaugh.

That's one of the main problems with our overall political discourse - irresponsible demagoguery is now swiftly and decisively denounced by people who should know better.
posted by brookeb at 10:37 AM on May 18, 2011


bluecalvo: “You're making the mistake of describing Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as "conservatives." They're opportunistic rabblerousing fearmongers, but I can guess that many people who are intellectually conservative would disown these fools in a minute.”

brookeb: “Could you please point me to the place where George Will, Charles Krauthaumer, Ross Douthat, David Brooks and other vociferously and publicly denounce the constant fear-monger and fact-free blather coming out of the likes of Beck and Limbaugh.”

People can disagree without publicly denouncing each other. Sometimes they might even disagree in fact whilst claiming loudly that they agree. It's confusing, but that's life.

Zed: “Yeah, there are people running around actually imagining that sometimes people are convicted who weren't guilty. Or that the police and courts have sometimes railroaded easy scapegoats in a desire to produce a conclusive-seeming conviction for a high-profile crime. And that this might have happened to one or both of Sacco and Vanzetti, whose alibis placing them elsewhere at the time of the crime were more substantial than any of the evidence placing them there, and whose guns weren't conclusively proven to have been used in the crime. Crazy talk!”

Yes, crazy talk. Sacco and Vanzetti were militants who believed in killing people in the name of anarchism. Following Howard Zinn – which is generally a bad idea – my generation seems to have become convinced of their total innocence. I'm not against the notion that court cases are quite often biased, nor do I disagree that anarchists have quite often been victims of unfair prosecution. However, the connections between Sacco and Vanzetti and Luigi Galleani can hardly be denied plausibly; and Luigi Galleani is indisputably a murderer and a terrorist who rationalized wholesale murder in the name of anarchism. He was not, to say the least, a "Food Not Bombs" type – incidentally, bombs were in fact his method of choice.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2011


Really all you need to know is that David Mamet not only wrote this line but then directed the actor saying it in a majorish motion picture.

My motherfucker is so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him.


All I need to know is that Ricky Jay is so awesome that he made that line great.

I love that line, but like much of Mamet's oeuvre, if you spend five seconds thinking about it, it makes absolutely no sense at all.

Honestly that's one of the things I like about Mamet's dialog. Real conversation is disjointed and doesn't make sense all the time (perhaps why Mamet is enjoying talk radio...) so having folks say things more for the impact than actual sense works just fine for me. It's dialog where people are more intricate and clever than you'd expect in life, but when you compare it to someone who does something similar - say, Sorkin - I think Mamet's sounds more real.

Not that either are, nor do they need to be. But I don't think Mamet writes things like that thinking they do make perfect internal sense.
posted by phearlez at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really left, and Canadian, but I want to hear the left say sometimes, Sacco and Vanzetti may have been guilty, and Alger Hiss surely was, and Ethel Rosenberg was not martyred by the state-

Have historians reached a consensus about the guilt of Sacco and Vanzetti? Certainly there is a consensus by historians -- not politicians -- that their trial was a travesty, and their human rights were badly abused.

And go ahead and remind me of the case against Ethel Rosenberg. Go ahead and state the evidence of her guilt.

I won't discuss Hiss -- it seems like there is a preponderance of evidence that he was actually a Russian agent, although the case against him was based, in part, on forged evidence.

The liberals -- and radicals -- I know point to these as examples of state persecution not because of the innocence or guilt of the people involved, which is mostly unsettled -- but because the cases against them were so bad an execution of justice. And I don't think that's a question that there is much historical disagreement on. Guilt or innocence aside, these people were railroaded.

I am not sure why these examples are being held up as liberal nonsense. History hasn't decided the truth about these cases, but apparently some in this thread have, and consider you a fool if you haven't jumped to the same conclusion, whether the facts support it or not.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:48 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I say it's sad above because it will be damn near impossible not to immediately jump to Avenger's reading of the play now that we know Mamet's politics.

I saw the film version, and it was a few years ago, so I'm willing to admit that maybe it changed radically when written for film, or that maybe my memory fails me.

I remember it being a play about a professor (a bit self-important, maybe. A bit socially awkward, but fundamentally good) having an awkward encounter with a mousy student in the first act, and by the second act she's returned (in a frumpy pant-suit, no less) spouting Marxist/Feminist rhetoric and informing the prof that she's attempting to deny him tenure. She then mistakes his buffonish (but certainly not menacing) gestures for an attempted rape and runs out of the room.

Then he's denied tenure/fired. His life is destroyed. Once again she confronts him. He goes nuts, beats the shit out of her, but realizes that he is totally broken and that she and the Group (campus feminists?) have won. Fin.

Again, maybe my brain is totally broke but that's how I read the play. It seems like the story of an awkward but good-natured professor who was utterly destroyed by feminism run amok. I'm willing to entertain other interpretations but that's how I saw it at the time.
posted by Avenger at 10:49 AM on May 18, 2011


Maybe it works better if he's played by Jeff Daniels in the style of The Squid and the Whale.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on May 18, 2011


Astro Zombie: “Have historians reached a consensus about the guilt of Sacco and Vanzetti? Certainly there is a consensus by historians -- not politicians -- that their trial was a travesty, and their human rights were badly abused.”

I hate to do this, but do you have a cite for this? I haven't seen any such consensus. And, in fact, I think the rehabilitation of Sacco and Vanzetti is in many ways a demonstration of how little modern liberals would like to think about history. Is the deportation of Luigi Galleani now disputed, too?
posted by koeselitz at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2011


. Sometimes they might even disagree in fact whilst claiming loudly that they agree.

"The fact that the conservative establishment endorses Rush and Beck is evidence that they actually disagree!" Sounds like you're kind of fantasizing here. We would like there to be some kind of intellectual conservatives that make up the drivers of the Republican party who actually really disagree with Beck and Rush. However, just because we would like something to be true doesn't mean it is true. If you're an intellectual with conservative leanings who's put off by the anti-empiricism of the right and are disgusted by Rush and Beck, then you became a Democrat. But if you're a Democrat who believes that "we can all get together and have a dialog about things and come to a mutually beneficial compromise," then, yeah, I assume you have to believe that the other side isn't being driven and run by Beck and Rush (or at least being run by the talking points they have to disseminate each day).
posted by deanc at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2011


I hate to do this, but do you have a cite for this?

Will Wikipedia do?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 AM on May 18, 2011


Yes, crazy talk. Sacco and Vanzetti were militants who believed in killing people in the name of anarchism. Following Howard Zinn – which is generally a bad idea – my generation seems to have become convinced of their total innocence. I'm not against the notion that court cases are quite often biased, nor do I disagree that anarchists have quite often been victims of unfair prosecution. However, the connections between Sacco and Vanzetti and Luigi Galleani can hardly be denied plausibly; and Luigi Galleani is indisputably a murderer and a terrorist who rationalized wholesale murder in the name of anarchism.

I notice you left out any part about whether their prosecution met their burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt whether they were guilty of a specific crime for which they were convicted.

The American justice system is founded on the principle that even if everyone knows you're a bad, bad person, even if you are a bad, bad person, there are high standards that need to be met for you to be convicted.

I think it's likely that Sacco and Vanzetti were bad people. I am not convinced of their total innocence. I am convinced that their guilt in a particular crime wasn't conclusively proven. And I'm really, really committed to the idea that these are really, really important distinctions.
posted by Zed at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2011


Apparently, Zed, the burden is on us to prove they were innocent, or we don't care to think about history.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2011


When people get old, their brains fucking fall out.

Why don't we ever say that when an old person says something ridiculous that we agree with?
posted by The World Famous at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2011


Well, lets be clear here, they are primarilyremembered in the US as a Joan Baez song.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2011


That's like saying Silent Running is remembered for its Joan Baez soundtrack. I remember it in spite of the Joan Baez soundtrack.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on May 18, 2011


This viewpoint baffles me. Are you also bored that you surround yourself entirely with round-earthers? Do you wish the theater had room for more flat-earther perspectives?

I am not even slightly joking about this: YES!

I am a round-earther. If I read a play by a flat-earther and it got me deeply inside that point-of-view, I'd be THRILLED. This is because I am totally uninterested in fiction as a vehicle for parroting my views, political or otherwise. I am also uninterested in fiction as a political or didactic tool. I don't think it's even very good at being that.

The more a work helps me get inside someone else's head, the better, and the more that person is different from me, the better. I want fiction that is about people I am unsympathetic to, people whose views I think are crazy, people who I hate.

I hate the class system, but one of the things I LOVE about "Upstairs Downstairs" is that it paints this complex view of the class system, one in which that system is both terrible and wonderful. I watch certain episodes and totally get inside the view of how wonderful it is when everyone has a place and a task and a station in life. (The show also makes it clear how horrible this is: it depends on the episode and the moment in question.) This is a GREAT GIFT the show has given me! I hate the class system just as deeply after having seen the series as I did before, but it allowed me to understand -- and really FEEL -- a different relationship with it. THAT is what I want art to do.

Of course, if I just come out of the theatre (or close the book or turn of the TV) thinking "yup that's a crazy person" or "yup those people are loathsome," then the experience won't have been interesting to me. Which is why I want to read and watch fiction by SMART conservatives.

This is one of the things Shakespeare is to me. I loath a lot of his characters' views, but while I'm watching good productions of his plays -- or reading them -- he transports me to a place where I'm totally gung-ho abou them -- or at least sympathetic to them.

I don't have an ounce of patriotism in me, but when I hear the St. Crispins day speech: WOW!

I don't want to hear a speech about how political borders are arbitrary lies. I already believe that. Boring.
posted by grumblebee at 11:16 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's like saying Silent Running is remembered for its Joan Baez soundtrack. I remember it in spite of the Joan Baez soundtrack.

"Silent Running" is remembered?
posted by grumblebee at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2011


"Silent Running" is remembered?

Joel on Mystery Science Theater based his uniform on the movie, R2D2 was based on the robot designs from the film, and Moon borrowed heavily from it. So, yes, it's remembered.

Liberals have no respect for the history of science fiction.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:19 AM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's the one with the bunny rabbits, and the seagull.

/kidding
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on May 18, 2011


Astro Zombie - You of all people forget Wall-E?
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on May 18, 2011


Ah, I don't care if he kicks puppies, the guy made House of Games so he's alright with me.
posted by desjardins at 11:20 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oleanna, like many of what Mamet writes, is about power (and its shifts). I really don't see it as espousing a point of view, either liberal or conservative.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:21 AM on May 18, 2011


Astro Zombie - You of all people forget Wall-E?

Now my girlfriend is crying again.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


If Mamet wants to criticize modern liberalism, then good on him. There's a lot to criticize. But to borrow his own metaphor: why do so many people who become discontented with a political position feel this sheep-like need to adopt a prefabricated opposing position?
posted by steambadger at 11:30 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The moment I head anybody refer to anybody else as "sheep" is the moment I know they have stopped thinking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:33 AM on May 18, 2011


That was in reference to Mamet, but we liberals would do well to avoid the terms as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:33 AM on May 18, 2011


♪FEEEEEELDS OF CHILDREN RUNNING WIIIIIIIIIILLLD!!♪♫
posted by Trochanter at 11:34 AM on May 18, 2011


♪WITH THE SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!♪♫
posted by Trochanter at 11:35 AM on May 18, 2011


I'd also like to point out that Conservatism is very different from Flat-eathism, though, as I said above, I would be thrilled to see a movie that really got me inside the head of a flat-earther.

A flat-earther is a person who is wrong about a fact. A Conservative MAY be wrong about some facts, but Conservatism itself isn't wrong. It's not something that can be right or wrong. It's an attitude. It's a (mostly emotional) framework and relationship with the world.

We tend to relate to it -- and Liberalism -- via ISSUES. A stance on abortion or a stance on gay rights. But those aren't Conservatism, even if they happen to be stances that many Conservatives (today) share.

At its heart, Conservatism is mistrust of change. And it's SMART to mistrust change in certain cases. (I think if the world was purged of all Liberals or all Conservatives -- either way -- we'd be in big trouble. We're in trouble now, because having those two groups fighting all the time creates major problems. And Conservatives by themselves create problems; as do Liberals. But both groups need checks provided by their opposites. If the world were made up of just Conservatives, no problems would ever be fixed. If the world was just made up of Liberals, we'd all be leaping before looking.)

Both the Liberal and the Conservative emotional frameworks can spawn RIVETING drama. So I totally reject this idea: "One reason that could be is because the best art is about pushing boundries out, finding new points of view and new territories of thought, revising one's opinion about life itself, for better or worse. The core tenets of conservative ideology are maintaining the status quo, preserving tradition, the entrenchment of power. If liberal art leaves you bored while looking in the mirror, that's because it's not trying hard enough or saying something true enough. Conservative art at it's best would be spitting into one's palm and then jerking off in a frenzy while staring in that same mirror."

The Liberal drama is the story about the hero who discovers he can only grow by leaving down and going on a quest. This is the stuff of great drama, because, like it or not, we all have to leave home at some point. (Metaphorically or in reality.)

The Conservate drama is the story about the hero who stays home and protects his town against invaders from outside. This is the stuff of great drama because our "safe" houses and attitudes are always under threat.

Both of those tales can be literal or metaphorical. In other words, the journey could be, say, a romance. It could be a "liberal" story of a man who finds love with an exotic girl from another country. Or it could be the "conservative" story of a man who marries the girl-next-door after almost having his heart stolen by the girl from the other side of town.

The most Liberal person on Earth has some Conservatism in him. We're all leery of change. If you're a proud Obama supporter and you're scared he might be out in the next election, that's a conservative fear. The most Conservative person has some Liberalism in him. EVERYONE embraces SOME change. Both Liberalism and Conservatism are deeply rooted in human psyche, culture and history. Both ideologies come with a set of fears, goals, ideals and conflicts. As such, they are both fine fodder for drama.
posted by grumblebee at 11:44 AM on May 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


That was in reference to Mamet, but we liberals would do well to avoid the terms as well.

If that last means me, AZ, no offense taken -- but I was, I think, using the term in a very specific way. I've always been mystified that people who become disillusioned with a political movement so often seem to change all their opinions (even those that had nothing to do with their disillusionment) and join "the oppositions". It doesn't seem to be enough to say "I'm no longer a Kangian, because I disagree with them on issues A, B and C. I agree with the Kodosians on B, but I think they're also wrong on A and C; and I still support the Kangians on D and E. So I guess I'm unaligned."

Instead, there seems to be a natural imperative to be connected with a party of some sort -- which looks very much like a herd instinct to me. Hence, the sheep reference.
posted by steambadger at 12:12 PM on May 18, 2011


I'm no Mamet expert, but I'm not sure if a lot of this is very new. The anti-academy stuff goes all the way back.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:25 PM on May 18, 2011


"Sheep" may have become to associated with being unthinking, but there is, underneath, some kind of flocking phenomenon -- about wanting to associate.
posted by Trochanter at 12:25 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooh, here's a sample of what I was talking about, from an actual Newt Gingrich press release:

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods.

Politics will be better if we drop the term "sheep" altogether.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on May 18, 2011


Not disagreeing with your point, AZ, but there's a lot of other ugly in that snip. Wow. Every word defames.
posted by Trochanter at 12:45 PM on May 18, 2011


Oleanna, like many of what Mamet writes, is about power (and its shifts). I really don't see it as espousing a point of view, either liberal or conservative.

I agree with this. Mamet is a Conservative in his non-dramatic writings, but I don't believe his plays suggest a Conservative view of the universe. (I've directed and acted in "Oleanna," and I've directed "Speed the Plow," "The Shawl," "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and "Prairie du Chien" -- and several of Mamet's Chekhov adaptations.)

There is a form of extreme Liberalism which posits that man is ultimately good and perfectible (a utopian world view). If any view that denies this is the Conservative, then Mamet -- in his dramatic writing -- is definitely a Conservative and so am I, even though when it comes to most issues (abortion, gay rights, etc) I would vote Liberal.

Mamet's plays seem to take place in a Darwinian universe. They don't at all take place in a universe where the best course of action is to avoid change. They take place in a universe in which people's base (and loving) impulses will come out, regardless of whether or not they strive for change or avoid change. Which is my belief exactly, and it's what I most respond to in his plays. (In his plays, the characters who strive for love are generally overpowered by the power-mongers. But the power-mongers aren't particularly happy.)

The Liberal in me agrees that man is improvable, and I think it's pretty clear that, over the centuries, we've made some good progress when it comes to a few human rights. But I find laughable the idea that man is perfectible. To me, that's magical thinking.

Mamet's plays, from what I can tell, take place in a Freudian universe, and I think Freud was right. I don't believe most of Freud's specific theories. But I do believe in his basic world view that we all have these animalistic drives under the surface. Because we're animals.
posted by grumblebee at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is anyone actually surprised to learn that Mamet's kind of an asshole? I sort of thought that was part of his whole schtick.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:10 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


♪WITH THE SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!♪♫

♪SHEEEEEPLE WHO LOVE SHEEEPLE ARE THE LUCKIEST SHEEEEPLE IN THE WORLD♪♫
posted by pyramid termite at 6:02 AM on May 19, 2011


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