David Mamet slams Hollywood's 'garbage' DEI initiatives. 'It's fascist totalitarianism'

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David Mamet is not done lambasting the liberal establishment in Hollywood.

“DEI is garbage,” said the Pulitzer Prize-winning author to a packed house at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. It’s fascist totalitarianism.”

The playwright and director did not shy away from his trademark expletives or controversy as he spoke about his tell-all memoir, “Everywhere an Oink Oink,” with Times deputy entertainment editor Matt Brennan at USC’s Newman Recital Hall.

His book, published in the fall, details his last 40 years in the moviemaking business and falling out of grace as his politics shifted him from a progressive “red diaper baby” of two communist Jewish parents raised on the South Side of Chicago to a present-day Trump-loving conservative.

For more than a decade, Mamet’s political and social statements have made as many headlines as his film and theater work. His latest gripe is with the new diversity rules that the Academy of Motion Pictures instituted for Oscar-eligible films to help advance the representation of LGBTQ+, women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

The idea that “I can’t give you a stupid f— statue unless you have 7% of this, 8% of that … it’s intrusive,” Mamet said.

Although Mamet acknowledged that discrimination barred groups from participating in Hollywood for years, he thinks the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. In his book, Mamet describes the leaders of these diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as “diversity capos and “diversity commissars.”

“The [film industry] has little business improving everybody’s racial understanding as does the fire department,” Mamet said to a few loud laughs in the crowd. He argued that his colleagues are better off selling popcorn than trying to improve representation for women, queer talent and other marginalized groups.

Mamet did not mince his words. He used the outdated term “transsexuals” when talking about transgender people and railed against gender-neutral bathrooms. “It politicizes the human excretory function,” he said to even louder guffaws in the crowd.

He proudly claimed his defense of free speech in an amicus brief he wrote to the Supreme Court this year in NetChoice LLC vs. Paxton. “We see great attacks on freedom of speech in this country,” Mamet said.

Film executives and writers were not safe from Mamet’s critiques either. He blamed film studios for the “hegemony” that’s smothered the voices of independent filmmakers. “There’s no room for individual initiative,” Mamet said. He added that the film industry is experiencing the “growth, maturity, decay and death” that “happens to everything that’s organic.”

Back in 2007, Mamet was a vocal opponent of the writers’ strike and complained last year when writers reached an impasse with studios as they bargained for pay raises and protections against the use of artificial intelligence.

“There’ll be less work,” Mamet conceded. “But the scripts will be better.”

Does Mamet think of his children as nepo babies who’ve benefited from his illustrious career? Not at all, he said. He feels gratified that they’ve learned from being on set with him.

“They earned it by merit,” he said of daughter Zosia Mamet, who starred in “Girls.” They haven’t benefited from any type of privilege, he said, and he thinks that DEI initiatives are taking away hard-earned opportunities. “Nobody ever gave my kids a job because of who they were related to.”

Mamet said he’s been pushed out of Hollywood less by his politics than by his age. Young directors want to work with friends of their own generation.

“Nobody’s going to pay me a lot of money anymore,” Mamet said. “Nobody’s going to let me have a lot of fun.”

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