Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Mametian perspective

Figuring it would cut the holiday saccharinity, I picked up David Mamet's meditation on the movie business, the essay collection Bambi vs. Godzilla. And it did, of course; Mamet's take on labor, management, and business is as tough as it gets. I particularly enjoyed this passage on the development path of producers, which if you substitute the word "customer" for "audience," should give every manager pause:

...the young bureaucrat-in-training, as he progresses in the bureaucratic hierarchy, will discover - some quickly; others, their eventual lackeys, with less speed - that success comes not from pleasing the audience but from placating his superiors until that time it is reasoned effective to betray them.

He learns in short to bide his time.

And as time goes by, this suborned young person becomes each day less capable of first uttering and then framing a non-bureaucratic thought.

Impulses of joy, of wonder, indeed, of rage and grief are repressed until they are no longer consciously felt.

This is called "growing savvy."

This person, like a member of a sexless marriage, ceases to feel affection, lust, desire for the permitted object, and, as in that marriage, this energy is diverted into (inter alia) depression, abuse, and treachery.

The successfully matriculated executive, marginally concerned wth art and diminishingly concerned even with "product," devotes his new wisdom and increased leisure to opportunities for trickery, greed, stock manipulation, and merger, as in any business.

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