The Burning Issues Film Series continued on Wednesday afternoon as The American Democracy Project (ADP) showed “Oleanna” at the LSC theater.
Based on the two-character play by David Mamet, “Oleanna” examines the burning issue of sexual harassment in a learning environment. The action of the movie revolves around an office meeting between a pompous professor and a naive female student.
Frustrated by the student’s inability to listen, the professor puts his hands on the female student’s shoulders. Even though the touching appears benign to most, the student accuses the professor of sexual harassment and rape.
“It lays on the table the issue of sexual harassment and talks about it,” said American Democracy Project Chair Joyce McCauley. “There’s a lot of angles that people don’t understand.”
The film is meant to polarize the audience into two separate camps: one that supports the professor and one that supports the student. Mamet succeeded in making both characters equally repulsive. The professor is an
elitist jerk that only cares about his new house and tenure and the student is a fanatical feminist for who the ends justify the means. In this case however, a show of hands proved that almost every student in the
LSC theater took the side of the professor.
If students and professors learned one thing from the movie it was to be careful. The movie shows that today’s climate of belligerent political correctness, one
Must tread carefully because regardless of credentials and experience all it takes is one insensitive remark to ruin a career or life.
“That’s just a reality of society today. You have to be careful about what you say and do. You have to watch what jokes you tell. You have to watch what comments you make,” McCauley said.
The American Democracy Project, which is in part sponsored by the New York Times, serves to get students involved in dialogue about controversial issues.
“We want our students to be engaged in the community,” McCauley said. “We want to encourage students to live our motto: ‘the measure of a life is its service.'”
The ADP Burning Issues film series will continue next month with a film about Alzheimer’s disease.