David Mamet Offers a Terrible Defense of His Famous Friends in This College Cheating Scandal
Following yesterday’s revelation that dozens of wealthy parents bribed their children’s ways into elite universities, David Mamet is here to give an opinion no one asked for. That opinion seems to boil down to two things: 1. William H. Macy is a cool guy, and 2. Colleges are already corrupt so why should anyone care about this specific corruption?
In an open letter published on Deadline, Mamet writes that because he “worked for very many years in and around our Elite Universities,” he is “able to report that their admissions policies are an unfortunate and corrupt joke.”
“Harvard was once sued for restricting the admission of qualified Jews; a contest currently being waged by Asians,” he writes.
Clearly, this is the beginning of an argument to tackle bigotry and corruption head-on, right? Nope!
As we wrote yesterday, wealthy and legacy families already have the opportunity to buy their children’s spots at these universities by way of large donations. David Mamet, king of hypermasculine stories about the struggle between corrupt men and more corrupt systems, does “not see the difference between getting a kid into school by bribing the Building Committee, and by bribing someone else. But, apparently, the second is against the Law. So be it.”
The college admissions process is broken. It already favors the wealthy and otherwise elite. One man, William Singer, decided that he wanted to profit directly and in the reported amount of $25 million. Mamet’s response is not to condemn Singer, but to declare the entire system not worth reforming. This comes from Mamet, who did go to college but declares his alma mater to be the Chicago Public Library. “I got what little educational foundation I got in the third-floor reading room, under the tutelage of a Coca-Cola sign,” he’s written. Good for him. A regular Good Will Hunting he is. Screw everyone else who sees value in a college education, I guess.
Mamet doesn’t see value in that system, but he does see value in William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman as individuals. And he apparently thinks we should agree with him, to the extent that he put these opinions in an open letter for all to read.
“I’ve known and worked with Bill Macy for nearly fifty years. We started two theatre companies together, one of which, THE ATLANTIC is still in operation in New York, after 35 years. I’ve known Felicity Huffman for those 35 years, she was my student, my colleague, worked in many of my films, and created roles on stage in three of my plays,” he writes. “I’m crazy about them both.”
Look, I don’t know either of these people personally but I love their work and I love the image of them as a celebrity couple. Pictures of them on the red carpet make my heart warm. That does not mean they are incapable of doing bad things. It doesn’t even have to mean they’re bad people. But the I like this person, so I have to support their crimes mentality in, at its core, really only a defense of corruption itself. Good people, nice people, talented people, can all do bad things. If you really want to stand by your friend and don’t want to condemn them as a person, it’s not that hard to criticize the action, as well as the corrupt system that it fed into.
Instead, Mamet seems to think the best response here is to stand by his friends, insist we all give up on the system and write the actions off as the adult version of “boys will be boys”–essentially, parents will be parents.
He writes in his letter, “That a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment is not only unfortunate, it is, I know we parents would agree, a universal phenomenon.
Except the kind of corruption we’re talking about–allegedly staging a scenario in which a student can cheat on their SATs–does not happen in a moment. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of money, and full knowledge that a crime is taking place. It also means that that parent saw enough value in that corrupt system of college admissions that she placed it over everything else.
So which is is, Mamet? Is the university system a “corrupt joke”? Or is it worth committing crimes for if you’re a loving enough parent? Because so far, the only actual thing David Mamet seems to place actual value on in whatever decisions his friends decide to make.
(via Deadline, image: Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
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