David Mamet and Male Friendship: Buddy Plays and Buddy Films by Arthur Holmberg

By Arthur Holmberg

Utilizing insights from psychology, sociology, anthropology, and the heritage of sexuality, Holmberg explores the paradox that drives male bonding. own interviews with Mamet and with the actors who've interpreted his significant roles make clear how and why males bond with one another and supplement shut research of Mamet's texts.

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How’s your head? Sonofabitch whapped you a good one. (22–23) Language is one of the most important ways men construct masculinity. In large part, people are who they are because of how they talk. The cops’ dialog—banter, bravado, bragging—typifies what men call conversation. The purpose is to project a male image. Men use a gutter vocabulary and violate grammar to appear tough. Through their language, the cops also perform togetherness. Men often use language as a weapon; they duel linguistically to assert dominance.

But before each other, these two tough guys cannot express their emotions or admit their love. Another strategy Hollywood uses to play down the love between the heroic couple is humor. In The Rookie, veteran cop Nick (Clint Eastwood) keels over a baggage conveyor at the airport after a shootout. His partner, greenhorn David (Charlie Sheen), rushes up and falls to the ground beside him. As the two buddies collapse against each other, David hands Nick a cigar. “My brand,” Nick says. 1). Throughout the movie, the two bombard each other with outrageous phallic jokes.

One of the functions of Hollywood is to sell fantasies that compensate for a disappointing reality. When Hollywood wanted a ladies’ man, a romantic lover who could please women emotionally as well as sexually, Hollywood imported him. From Valentino to Mastroianni, from Boyer to Banderas—suave Latin lovers, not Dirty Harry fondling his Magnum— knew how to satisfy a woman, at least on the silver screen. “I’ve never seen so many unhappy, melancholy women,” Mastroianni said about Americans. ”36 The aforementioned theories imply an undertow of homoeroticism in American tough, a historically specific masculinity that rose to hegemony in the late nineteenth century (Holmberg, David Mamet and American Macho Chapter 1).

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