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David Mamet Takes On Affirmative Action In Right-Wing Script

Written by on May 21, 2011 

Tired of hearing about a famous, controversial director who made some wacky, off-color and right-wing remarks? Well, Lars Von Trier has been banned from Cannes, so let’s move on to David Mamet. The Playlist brings us a breakdown of two recent articles which confirm that Mamet is no longer a “Brain Dead Liberal” and that he’s working on a script that argues against affirmative action.

The long, detailed article in The Weekly Standard chronicles a talk Mamet gave at Stanford a couple of years ago. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross, Lakeboat and Speed-The-Plow – who wrote the screenplays for The Verdict, The Untouchables, Hoffa and Wag The Dog – gave a stumbling, bewildering assault on higher education, a red-blooded defense of capitalism, and attacked affirmative action. The article noted that left-wingers will get to be properly appalled when his book of essays, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture shows up soon.

Somewhere in there, Mamet mentions a script he’s been working on, “a young rich girl who applies to Harvard, when she’s rejected she suddenly declares herself an Aztec to qualify for affirmative action. Presumably high jinks ensue.” Indeed. If you’ve seen anything by Mamet, from the sexual-harassment psychological nightmare of Oleanna to the hyper-male, dog-eat-dog profanity of Glengarry Glen Ross to his overlooked 2004 military secret-ops flick Spartan, you know he’s not exactly known for his light, comic touch.

So what the hell is going on? I never really believed Mamet was a flaming liberal, and he’s never really been known for his politics. Sure, he wrote Hoffa, about the formation of the Teamsters, but that film outlined just how the unions became corrupt, mob-controlled viper pits, with no overt judgement. His last film, 2008’s Redbelt, had a multi-layered plot which included how Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s martial arts instructor is conned by a fading Hollywood action star (played by a doughy Tim Allen). It felt like a back-handed slap to the showbiz world. Mamet’s escalating interest in martial arts – traditionally the domain of right-wing nutjobs like Chuck Norris – has pointed toward this new stance for some time.

Ultimately, if David Mamet is trying to diminish his relevance and join Glenn Beck on the fringe of neo-con bullshit, he’s heading in the right direction. Of course, Mamet happens to be a brilliant writer and incalculably smarter than people like Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and even if this screenplay idea sounds insanely stupid, his Village Voice article denouncing liberalism is well thought-out. I’ll withhold judgement until I read this book of essays – he might be more of a Libertarian, like Ron Swanson.

Are you a David Mamet fan? Do you think this script idea sounds idiotic, all politics aside?




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