FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Celebrity Worship Is a Mixed Bag

by DAVID MACARAY

It’s such a disappointment when a writer or entertainer we like and admire says or does something that not only disappoints or confuses us, but offends us. His or her personal philosophy shouldn’t enter into it, but it does. Intellectually, we know we shouldn’t mix the artistic with the personal, but we do it anyway.

Take the gifted playwright David Mamet for example. His stage plays and Hollywood screenplays are absolutely brilliant. He’s a genius. Say what you will about his material being “too masculine” or “sexist,” there’s no denying the man knows how to put together a script. He’s a master of his craft. I’m an unabashed fan and admirer.

But when Mamet talks politics, it’s another story. When he talks politics, you quickly realize he’s no smarter than the guy down at the donut shop—the guy who walks around with the perpetual smirk on his face, thinking he has all the answers. In fact, because the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mamet is so full of pompous bloat, he comes off even worse than the guy at the donut shop.

Apparently, Mamet has turned into something of a cultural scold. He now refers to liberals and progressives as “elitists.” Maybe it’s a function of age and accumulated wealth, but whatever the reason, he appears to have morphed into your garden variety conservative. So be it. Although I’m extremely disappointed at his change of heart, I don’t begrudge him that. Also, I’m not certain he was ever the lefty we thought he was.

But the two things that make Mamet’s political pronouncements so offensive are: (1) even though he presents them as fresh and provocative, his insights are as rehashed and warmed over and utterly unoriginal as those heard at the Republican convention in 1980, and (2) they are stated in a stunningly and punishingly boring fashion.

Incredibly, this gifted dramatist, this man who can make a script positively “sizzle,” turns out to be a lousy essayist. His prose is not only lifeless and soporific, its soul-crushing verbosity reminds you of an overly ambitious graduate student hoping to bullshit his way into a good grade. I wish I’d never read or heard anything Mamet said about politics.

Then there’s Michael Moore, another one of my heroes. I love the guy. I love his wit, his courage, his baseball cap. That said, Michael Moore wrote a book that almost caused me to have an aneurysm. In fact, I began shouting so many profanities, you’d think I was a character in a Mamet play.

The book is called, “Downsize This,” and in a chapter entitled “Why Are Union Leaders So F#!%g Stupid” (P. 127), he declares that the reason organized labor is faring so poorly is because union leaders agreed to give back stuff. That was Moore’s sage advice to union leaders. Don’t give back stuff.

Although Moore’s heart is in the right place, his knowledge of labor relations (and recent history) is on planet Uranus. Apparently, he’s unaware that “not giving back stuff” is the Holy Grail of organized labor, that not giving back stuff is as basic and fundamental to a union negotiator as the hydrogen molecule is to a chemistry professor. The problem, Michael, is how to avoid giving it back.

What did labor do to resist the juggernaut of post-Reagan corporationism? They went on strike; they shut it all down; they picketed; they hired consultants; they filed ULP (unfair labor practice) charges with the NLRB; they filed lawsuits; they did boycotts; they did secondary boycotts. They fumed, they fussed, they sulked, they threatened, they refused to join in, they pretended to join in, they insulted management, they flattered management. They used every trick in the book, and some that weren’t in the book.

Think of what you would do to avoid giving back stuff, if you were in charge of a labor union. Make of a list of those things and the tactics you would use, because that’s exactly what labor did. Except they did ten times more than you could ever dream of, because they know ten times more than you know.

And what resulted from all that? Millions of union jobs were still lost. The corporate juggernaut that labor is facing is awesome and fierce. The UAW went from more than a million members to about 380,000. Yet Michael Moore pompously advises labor what not to do. Shame on you, Michael. I wish I’d never read your book.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd Edition), was a former labor union rep. He can be reached at: dmacaray@earthlink.net.

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail