Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Glengarry Glen Ross

It takes a certain type of man to “always be closing.” This man must cast off all femininity and emotionality. This man must hone in on the weak and make a sale. This man must devolve to the past, to a time of patriarchy and even further still, to a time of predator / prey etymologies. This is the spirit of the man who sought out the New World and stole it from the natives. Anything goes, to this man, as long as emotionality is taken out of account (not one’s own deceiving sort of emotionality, for that can be useful as a tool, but rather true emotionality). One might call these Darwinistic men “assholes,” for they act without regard to others, all rational with no emotion. This is perhaps the type of man David Mamet is portraying in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

The negligence of female character plays an important role in David Mamet’s play. These men long to live in their manly business world, yet they did not get the memo that men and women are equal. All of their degrading curses hold the same weight as saying, “Go home to your wife.” A wife is not a manly thing in the least. They cannot see past the physical concept of masculinity and femininity to see that some of them have feminine tendencies as well and that the women, who do not even appear in the play, have more control than think. For instance, in James Foley’s film, Shelly Levine is constantly calling his daughter to check on her in the hospital. This is a rather nurturing role for such a man, but he always makes the call in private.

Also, Mister and Misses Lingk are a good example of this. James Lingk is weak. Ricky Roma saw him as injured gazelle, honed in on him like a lion and made the sale. However, this is not the Savannah; this is the twentieth century, and Misses Lingk, who obviously “wears the pants” in their relationship, told him he had to cancel the purchase. Thus Roma’s attacks on Mister Lingk’s femininity or emotionality were denied by Misses Lingk’s own masculinity or rationality. And this occurs again in the film with Shelly Levine’s client as well. When Levine arrives at the man’s house, the lead says that he must talk to his wife first, implying that she has power over those sorts of things, and denying Levine’s own advances on his emotionality.

What is rather sad about this play is that these are adventurous men, who long to do masculine things like exploring a newly discovered world. However, everything has already been discovered. These men are living with past ideals, doing things for the thrill of the hunt, yet they are stuck in the world of sales, and it is a terribly monotonous world. I know… I have been there myself.

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