Saturday, May 14, 2011

THE FIX IS IN. David Mamet has a new book, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, which Andrew Ferguson at the Weekly Standard says "marks the terminal point of a years-long conversion from left to right that Mamet-watchers (there are quite a few of these) have long suspected but hadn’t quite confirmed." Hadn't quite confirmed? Mamet's "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'" appeared in the Village Voice in 2008.

But that essay "was much milder than its title," insists Ferguson. "It was the work of a man in mid-conversion." (Mamet merely said, "I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind," called Thomas Sowell "our greatest contemporary philosopher," etc.) So never mind the high-level notice previously taken of Mamet's political journey; wait'll the libs find out he's really conservative now. Bet they'll be mad!

A hint of how this earth-shattering news might go down is seen in Ferguson's portrayal of Mamet's speech at Stanford, though it occurred "a couple of years ago." The speech contained denunciations of political correctness and "a full-throated defense of capitalism." Nonetheless, instead of ripping up the seats, "the students in Memorial Hall seemed mostly unperturbed," reports Ferguson. "The ripples of dissatisfaction issued from the older members of the crowd." Ripples of dissatisfaction! Also, some of the oldsters -- "the wives were in wraparound skirts and had hair shorter than their husbands’" -- walked out.

Boy, Mamet's in trouble now.
After reading The Secret Knowledge in galleys, the Fox News host and writer Greg Gutfeld invented the David Mamet Attack Countdown Clock, which “monitors the days until a once-glorified liberal artist is dismissed as an untalented buffoon.” Tick tock.
Concurring is Mark Steyn, who quotes himself on the topic; from Steyn's 2008 essay:
In The Village Voice the other week, the playwright David Mamet recently outed himself as a liberal apostate and revealed that he's begun reading conservative types like Milton Friedman and Paul Johnson. If he's wondering what he's in for a year or two down the line, here's how Newsweek's Jonathan Tepperman began his review this week of another literary leftie who wandered off the reservation...
Long story short, the political writer Tepperman gave Martin Amis' political book, The Second Plane, a negative review. There can be no possible explanation for this except payback for Amis' apostasy, just as there will be no other possible explanation for whatever brickbats Mamet may get after his book comes out.

Steyn's "year or two" timeline is a little off -- Mamet has since "'Brain-Dead'" had the star-studded Race on Broadway, which received mixed reviews, the slightly better-received film Redbelt, and some prominent revivals (including one of Boston Marriage which the New York Times recently puffed -- ah, if they only knew!). But we may expect someone to object to The Secret Knowledge, and this will be proof that the David Mamet Attack Countdown Clock has gone off.

Meanwhile Tony Kushner, the most obviously leftist playwright this side of Dario Fo, has just debuted a new play at the Public. This is from the review in (cue sinister music) the Times:
...few of these revelations feel surprising or particularly necessary. “Angels in America” established that Mr. Kushner is a great playwright. In “Guide” he registers mainly as a great conversationalist who keeps talking well after he has made his essential points.
Kushner got even worse at the Voice ("a high-mettled, frolicsome, intellectually challenging mess, certainly self-indulgent, but never drab" -- now there's a pull-quote!) and elsewhere.

What reason can there be for the liberal intelligentsia turning on their fair-haired boy? They must be laying the groundwork for the attack on Mamet; by denouncing Kushner, they're making it look as if their critics review works based on their merits, rather than on the orders of the liberal High Command!

Once you adopt the view that everything on God's green earth is about politics, so much becomes obvious.

UPDATE. Much discussion of Mamet's work in comments. Don't misunderstand: I'm a fan. And I've known since I saw and admired the first New York production, years ago, of Oleanna with Bill Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon that he ain't exactly Dalton Trumbo, as would anyone else who was paying attention. And yet he wasn't blackballed by the nobs then. The first London production of Oleanna was directed by Harold fucking Pinter! The notion that a man of Mamet's attainments suffers, or could suffer, appreciably from liberal persecution is beyond ridiculous.

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