Twelve Reasons I Hate Neil LaBute

1. For his conviction that he had the right temperament to succeed in his adaptation of Possession, a brilliant novel now stinking up a Multiplex near you: “I loved the parallel stories … really all the things that were in the book interested me. I was in academia. I’ve been an anglophile for a long time. I have always written about relationships and here were two relationships that were very different. So all the elements spoke to me, it just seemed like a natural fit.” (From the IndieWire interview.)

2. In the Company of Men.

3. Your Friends and Neighbors. (Need I elaborate?)

4. For saying the following about Your Friends and Neighbors: “I think of the movie as a comedy in many ways. I think there are quite a few laughs in the movie. As you’re sitting there watching it, you may think about something beyond that, and feel that it’s got some teeth to it, but I do think it has some bite. But it’s still a comedy.” (From the Onion A/V Club interview.)

5. For making it impossible for me ever to like Ben Stiller again.

6. For joking, with regard to In the Company of Men, that “I was trying to make a feel-good summer hit (laughs).” (From the first Salon interview.)

7. For single-handedly creating the career of Aaron Eckhart.

8. For my sneaking sense that he would enjoy the fact that I hate these movies so much.

9. For being a real bonehead about the reaction to his movies: “At [In the Company of Men‘s] Sundance debut, an audience already on edge over the uncomfortable ending threw its first question at the writer/director: Why is the movie’s victim a deaf woman? ‘And I just, kinda offhanded, said, “Because I always thought deaf people were funny,”‘ recalls LaBute, who, of course, instantly acquired a rep for insensitivity. ‘For a long time, that label stuck — the film’s still called misogynist.'” (From the Dallas Observer.)

10. For having an insufficient number of rotten tomatoes hurled at him.

11. For this assessment of the horrors of 9/11: “I wrote about a sort of flash point I had, where I was standing in line, four days later, in Union Station in Chicago, lugging my bags around trying to get on this train and half-hoping there was a first-class line that I could get in to, and sort of realizing, you know, that we’re back to basics, everybody was just sort of fighting for space. And I had this moment of thinking, ugh, I really don’t like this, it’s really inconvenient what happened. It’s really sad, of course. But it’s rather inconvenient today. ” (From the second Salon interview.)

12. For the thought, the very thought, that he might be involved in the film version of Angels in America.


  1. You must hang around with sheep or something. You can’t tell me that on some level, sometime, somewhere, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US hasn’t thought or entertained the very ideas, concepts, and “jokes” that Neil LaBute has the audacity to give voice to and put into the mouths and heads of his characters. Bravo Mr. LaBute for being unafraid to go where few dare tread. Must we settle for theater that is mindless entertainment? Theatre that has nothing to teach us, make us aware of, or inspire us to take action is useless. Theatre was never meant to be “escapism.” If you want that turn on your TV set. TV and film generally has very little to offer us beyond the repetition and rehashing of the same old tired ideas. Take a look at the rash of “reality” TV shows as an example. The same crap…recycled. Is there something more redeeming about this kind of “entertainment?” It is TV at its most insidious. It subtly teaches us not to trust one another and that anyone can be famous and make a million dollars if they’re willing to make an ass of themselves by eating live spiders, forming alliances and stabbing “friends” in the back, voting each other off, or allowing themselves to be subjected to public humiliation (ironically these publically humiliated everyday Americans are broadcast on a show called American Idol). Isn’t it odd that our idols on this and on other shows are shown doing nasty, hateful, revengeful, traitorous, and often sexually humiliating things? People go on these shows for the allure of possible fame. Sometimes, in fact, infamy is even better. Being vilified is just as good as long as we get 1 million dollars for being the last villain standing. These shows and other “entertainments” like it depict humanity at its worst and GLORIFY it. Neil LaBute’s work holds the dark, unseemly, cruel aspects of the human condition up to the light and does not glorify it. Instead he shows us what so many of us are capable of and are willing to engage in. He asks the question (in his films and plays) is there something of value to be learned here? I challenge you to think outside the box and attempt to learn rather than merely entertained.

  2. Wow, I challenged myself and thought about it…nope – I still hate Neil Labute. Nothing of value there.

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