It is an unfortunate truth: political correctness-sometimes but not always-overrides education. For a while, it has been extremely detrimental-inside as well as outside of the academic community-a fact Mamet has obviously noticed. For some people, whether they be students, educators or the general citizenary, it has become a tool to elevate their social and political standing, while for others, it has become a loaded weapon in order to inflict character assassination and injure deep-seated Constitutional rights, whether consciously or unconsciously. Something that is meant to refine an education-if it is not done to a ridiculously abnormal degree-can enhance the emotional senses, the perception (although sensing is a more inborn ability). However, when the general essence of civility becomes radically altered due to an excessive fusion with social politicking, it ceases to be civility. Rather, it becomes something else entirely. And when that happens, that is when the absurdity of overindulgent social commentary arises. A war of genuine verses pseudo intellectualism erupts, clashes, leaving in its wake bitterness, hubristic and sympathetic condescension and a widened communication gap. David Mamet presents to his readers and audience the pros and cons of political correctness: the necessity and lunacy of it. Oleanna is a play with no middle ground; it is black or white, cut and dry. Period. It is the responsibility of the readers and audience to create the middle ground, to alleviate the extremity of the bipolar divisiveness. It is the audience and readers who must apply what they have just seen or read to the daily grind of life. The people are the workers, the ones who must create the compromises so that atmospheres-everywhere-do not resemble that of the Salem witch trials. Militant political correctnes, as presented in the latter half of Oleanna is authoritarian, oppressive and very palpably harmful. (Read pages 78-79.) Those excerpts, though admittedly extreme, are only a half of a wider issue that Mamet is trying to present. The other half is represented on pages 71 and 74. The extremes of both characters are quite stark-powerful in their own right-because the evolving situations have given them that. The Carol character doesn't simply want understanding as a person and student. She wants understanding of the academic material, literally, not the subtle partisan undertones that he (the professorial character of John) is blending into his teachings and pawning off as academic truth. In doing that, he ceases to be an educator, but altogether evolves into something entirely different: a fraud with unlimited power. When that evolution occurs, it needs to be corrected. In Oleanna, both characters need to be corrected. Ultimately, I believe they are. Oleanna is a great work of drama: honed, straightforward and sincere. Both halves of the same circle are equally discussed and probed.
It is an unfortunate truth: political correctness-sometimes but not always-overrides education. For a while, it has been extremely detrimental-inside as well as outside of the academic community-a fact Mamet has obviously noticed. For some people, whether they be students, educators or the general citizenary, it has become a tool to elevate their social and political standing, while for others, it has become a loaded weapon in order to inflict character assassination and injure deep-seated Constitutional … more
"An ear for reproducing everyday language has long been David Mamet's hallmark and he has now employed it to skewer the dogmatic, puritannical streak which has become commonplace on and off the campus. With Oleanna he continues an exploration of male-female conflicts begun with Sexual Perversity in Chicago in 1974. Oleanna cogently demonstrates that when free thought and dialogue are imperilled, nobody wins." The Independent, Michael Wise "John and Carol go to it with hand-to hand combat that amounts to a primal struggle for power. As usual with Mamet, the vehicle for that combat is crackling, highly distilled dialogue unencumbered by literary frills or phony theatrical ones." International Herald Tribune, Frank Rich--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.