Mamet: Jewish Identity

David Mamet: The Americanist: Jewish identity
This part of the paper will try to examine David Mamet’s identity and vision of Judaism and how this fits into contemporary American society.   Therefore Mamet’s   Jewish identity will be compared to the analysis of one of his own created fictional characters “Bobby Gold” from the movie Homicide which   he both wrote and directed himself in 1991. This police drama is probably his most obvious film about Jewish culture, it portrays a rather hostile world filled with cultural ignorance and confusion about loyalty and also questioning the themes of ethnicity,   identity and integrity themselves. Mamet investigates here what it means to belong to race and place through the quest for a criminal on one hand and on the other a spiritual journey to home.
  The protagonist of Homicide is a   homicide detective on a big city police force named Robert (Bobby) Gold, only a Jew in name. He has repressed his Jewishness but remains defenseless both in the face of anti-Semitism from non-Jews and rejection by other Jews, because he isn’t sufficiently Jewish, for he has been assimilated to American culture. According to the Jews in the film, one can only call himself a Jew when he is aware of Jewish history and the perpetual threat against their kind. In a nutshell “To the non-cops he’s a cop, but to the cops he’s a Jew” (Mamet, D. 1992)
On the surface structure he solves murder cases like any other detective, but on a deeper level he is actually looking for a place somewhere he belongs and an identity in this world he can call his home. Mamet conjoins “place and personal identity” with “the figures of belonging and exile” (Chaudhuri, U. 1995)
“home” is one of the key principles of Homicide and is constantly contrasted to the homelessness and   exile of the American Jew. This mirrors the personal experiences of Mamet and his friends “who grew up in reformed Judaism and didn’t feel sufficiently either Jewish or American which is much the...