Our Movies, Our Jobs

There are lots of movies out there that get us thinking about the way we view our jobs. Maybe it was a recent movie like The Devil Wears Prada, or Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance in Norma Rae:

Or more likely, it was a movie like Office Space. In Flavorwire, Jason Diamond talks about how Office Space influenced the way people like him think about work:

Although my mind was saturated with THC and irrational fears of the real world I was soon going to have to walk into, Office Space really did serve as a cautionary tale for me. In fact, I think it educated an entire generation about exactly what we should not want from life, skewering and satirizing all the tiny indignities of office work. Sitting behind a desk pushing paper was revealed to be no different from working at a corporate chain restaurant where your performance is measured by the amount of “flair” you wear. Both types of jobs would eventually, the movie promised, chew you up and spit you out.

I’ve re-watched Office Space plenty of times since its release, and I can say with clear and sober surety — even though jobs are far more scarce on its 15th anniversary — that the film remains just as potent a critique of meaningless white-collar work as it was in the Clinton-era budget-surplus days.

Office Space didn’t quite have the same effect on me, though it did reinforce the idea that sometimes you just have to do things sometimes just to get a paycheck to pay your bills, and that no job lasts forever. You do something you hate for a little while—it might be pushing papers and dealing with unbearable people—and then move on to the next job that you hate a little less. And then you find a job that works out—until it doesn’t and you start the process over again.

And sometimes you get to smash a printer.



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