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On Was David Mamet Ever Really A Liberal Anyway?

I'm glad John Band brought up "Oleanna," because it's a definite tip-off that Mamet had some conservative leanings as early as '89, when the play came out in the U.S. The most important thing to note about Oleanna is that it's completely made up. So many people have misread it as being some sort of deep statement on feminism, when the entire plot of the story--a deeply disturbed student makes a false accusation of rape and tries to leverage that by teaming up with a "feminist" group that's really into censorship, with them attempting to get a professor to ban his own book--has never, ever happened on an American University. It's a two-dimensional, melodramatic monster movie, and a well-constructed one, where, by the end, we hate the monster. Unfortunately, most people fail to see that.

I'm not a fan of Mamet's new politics, but it has to be said--as a fellow playwright & a liberal--I'd pull out three or four of my own teeth out without anaesthetic to have written something as funny as "State & Main" or "Romance," which are, respectively, one of the best comedies of 2000, and one of the funniest plays of the past decade. His newish work: "Boston Marriage," "The Cryptogram," and "Wilson: A Consideration of the Sources" holds a good deal of interest.

His *essays,* though, which this book falls into, are terrible (with the possible exception of "True and False," and even that one's condescending, which seems to be his modus operandi.) "Bambi vs. Godzilla" was a disappointment, and in "On Directing Film," he acts like he's the only person on the planet to discover editing.

So, yeah. Good playwright, bad essayist, secretly been a conservative for a lot longer than he admits, but wanted to sell books.

Posted on June 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm 0