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Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999) - Comfort vs. Discomfort

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  • Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999) - Comfort vs. Discomfort

    In Mike Judge’s film, Office Space (1999), introduces a humorous reality of what employment is like. It seems normal in this day and age for someone to dislike their job rather than enjoy it. It is the norm to feel more discomfort than comfort when being employed, something that you are obligated to do rather than enjoying what you do. In the first 20 minutes the discomforts of protagonist Peter Gibbons are shown as the film walks you through Peter’s everyday life where he works at a computer software company he loathes, along with his coworkers Michael Bolton and Samir, who also hate their job.

    From the early morning alarm clock bleeping, the tedious road to work, to the everyday electronic shock he receives before walking into a cubicle filled room, you get a sense of how dull and unsatisfying Peter’s life actually is. What’s even worse is the comments that Peter and his employees receive on a daily basis. As the movie starts out at a Monday at work, Peter is asked by his multiple bosses if he got the memo because he’s been doing his reports wrong, as well as the lady who stops by and says “it must be a case of the mondays”, It’s clear that this is not a good day at work as he asks Michael and Samir to go out to lunch with him because he had to "get out of there”. What’s so offensive about “a case of the mondays”? Well, for one, if you already hate the place where you work, why would you want to hear that someones indicating you have a bad attitude? It makes work even more uncomfortable and dreary.

    As soon as Peter’s attitude changes from the hypnosis, he is more care free and things seem to go a lot better for him as soon as his attitude changes. Is an attitude change all we need to make the work place more bearable, more comfortable? Or is our attitude making us uncomfortable or is it standing in the way of our comfort? Or is just the job that is uncomfortable? Or maybe it’s the certain requirements of our job. For instance, Chotchkies, the place where Joanna works, requires her to wear at least 15 pieces of flair. She is asked multiple time by her boss why she doesn’t wear more flair and that she should be more like her coworker who wears 37 pieces of flair. Joanna doesn’t care about her flair as she expresses she chose 15 pieces of flair randomly because its the bare minimum requirement. This makes Joanna uncomfortable after being asked so many times and she soon gets fired after giving her boss the finger. Joanna then goes to work next door where she seems much more happy and comfortable with the management and uniforms. Michael Bolton also seems to get a lot of comments because a famous singer has his same name, he hates that the people at work make comments about it as it makes him feel at discomfort. Are all these instances, “a case of the mondays”, the flair at Chotchkies, and Michael Bolton things that make people disassociate with their job? It seems like these offenses are all things that these employees don’t want to deal with and makes their work very uncomfortable to the point they don’t want to tolerate it.

  • #2
    Office Space does a good job at showing the common disdain many people feel while working their standard nine to five job. Ron Livingston's protagonist demonstrates this feeling throughout the first scenes of the movie. However I would not say that it is always a case of the mondays like some characters in the film suggest. Throughout the film, Peter encounters people around his job, that he hates, that any person would have trouble working for. In my opinion this is part of why Peter’s disdain for his job is so apparent. The same goes for Jennifer Aniston’s character Joanna. Her boss keeps grilling her about the amount of flair that she wears compared to other employees. This is where the main issue lies in my opinion. The problem is not necessarily the job but the people they are exposed to on a daily basis for long periods of time.

    Once Peter visits the hypnotist and once Joanna gets fired and finds a new job, they begin to feel more carefree and even happy. This shows how weighed down the characters really were by the people around them that they were dealing with. This would show the real discomfort of the film. The job could be okay, but the people around that job make it unbearable. However, there could also be some discomfort through the actual job.

    In Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, he explains that when a person is working he does not “feel” and only can do so during his free time. This is shown throughout this movie as well as another reason for the discomfort of the employees. If a person is stuck doing a job that they have no interest in, then it would be hard for them to find any sort of enjoyment while doing the job. Therefore they are not able to “feel.” Ultimately Office Space provides insightful commentary of discomfort in the workplace. Whether that be from the job itself or from the people that are around that job. Discomfort is a normal occurrence in the workplace and it helps to enjoy the job and the people to limit the discomfort of the persons nine to five job.

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    • #3
      In the film Office Space we truly get the perfect capsulation of most people today and the attitude they have towards their jobs. I believe the film is making the audience question themselves and ask if their career is the problem, or if it is simply their attitude towards it. This is a lengthy debate, but they are good arguments for all around. Initially Peter is in a terrible mood starting from traffic. His bad mood seems to trickle down to every part of his day. Like from his colleagues, his boss and the way he is interacting with the world around him. Once he goes to the hypnosis he has a much calmer attitude and his life tends to unfold in a much more pleasant way. His different perspective gives him the clearness of how unfit he is for the job he has. Just because he now has a different outlook and attitude on life doesn’t make him enjoy his occupation any more it just gives him the actual courage and dedication to understand what he really wants in life and to go after it. He also goes after the girl he has had his eye on for some time once his mind is in a clearer space. I believe the attitude we have in life can definitely make our life that much better, but it goes deeper than just that.

      Having a different perspective doesn’t just ultimately change your life, but I think it gives you a way of looking at life that helps you figure out how to live it the way you want. Even though Peter went from a higher paying position at a tech company to working as a construction worker, he seems happier because he listened to what he really wanted and stopped listening to outside opinions. People can try as hard as they want to enjoy a position that they don’t really thrive in, but ultimately you only can be truly satisfied when you stop conforming to other beliefs and start living a way that makes you appreciate the beauty of life. There are always going to be problems in life and things that could be better, but once you lose the fear and overall stress of life’s daily occurrences you can have a clearer vision of what is going to make you become a better version of who you are.
      A job could be the reason you are uncomfortable, but without changing your perspective and trying out different options it will be hard to ever learn to really appreciate anything in your life.

      This film shows that anyone is capable of getting out of their situation that they are stuck in. Peter never is going to quit until he gets hypnotized, he was never going to break up with his girlfriend that he had troubles with either. He was trying to make his life work because it seemed like the easier way to go. It seemed like the ‘right’ thing to do, to just go with the flow and stick out a nice job with a pretty girlfriend. Then he easily transforms his life into one that he is happy about pretty quickly because he starts listening to himself and forgets about the fears and worries he previously had. His decisions are quick and easy, he knows exactly what he wants. I guess It really is easy to get what you want in your life, you just must be fearless and go after what you truly believe in. I think it’s not just the job, nor the attitude that makes us uncomfortable, I think it’s the fear.

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      • #4
        This movie definitely focused heavily on the discomfort of common work environments from the daily routine, cliche conversations, unfulfilling work, and emotionless bosses. The movie essentially comments on this during the interview scene, Peter says he barely does anyone work and the guys from corporate consider him for a promotion and want to fire people who actually keep their heads down and do the work they are paid to do without a fuss. What is the point of doing what you're directed to do if it does not get you anywhere? It gets so bad that Peter does not have any motivation to do anything at, he even says if he had one million dollars he would sit around and do nothing all day. However, when given the chance to do this he only does it once. I think Peter deep down does want to be productive, but in his state at the start of the movie he was too depressed to even realize it.

        Peter doesn't work on separating his work life from his home life. When talking with his neighbor, it was the main topic of conversation. When he went out to lunch, it was the topic of conversation. Peter needed something else to occupy his time such as hobbies. When you let one aspect of your life consume every part of your life, you're feelings are determined based off how that one aspect is going. This can negatively effect relationships with friends and family as well as one's own mental health.

        The comfort comes not until the very end, Peter says "I may not like my job, but with you I may like my life" He learns that he needed to separate the two worlds, and now he has someone to do it with. They went fishing together, watched movies together, and went out to events together. I think the point of the movie though isnt to show that you need someone else first in order to be comfortable, but you just need to consume yourself as much as you can with what you love.

        Peter suffering falls in line with Marx's philosophical views, he had become a commodity, there was no differing him from any other of his peers to his boss. They were there to make the company money, and nothing more. The boss were not interested in having relationships with the their workers, just interested in barking orders at them.

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        • #5
          I think "Sounds like a case of the Mondays" is offensive in Office Space is because it purposely over looks the alienation of labor that white collar workers face. In Office Space, office workers are working in horrible condition, they are inside with no sunlight, crammed into small cubicles, sitting for hours, and staring at a screen. Physically, the work these people do is horrible for their health and very unnatural for human beings. The job is also very boring and unsatisfying, the film shows the audience this when Peter is trying to tell Joanna what he does, but half way through he says "You know what, it doesn't matter." Peter feels that the work he does is so trivial that it is not even worth fully explaining. The film tries to show how boring and slow pace the job is with movement or lack thereof. Almost all of the scenes in the office are stagnant, everyone is either sitting or standing in one place. The scenes where there is movement by the characters at work is when they are not "at" work, such as Peter's movement when he is getting his phone book.

          ThroughoutOffice Space, it is obvious that the workers are feeling alienated from their work. "Sounds like a case of the Mondays" is so offensive because it ignores the fact that Peter and the other workers are subject to miserable and unfulfilling working conditions, and instead puts the blame onto the worker and their attitude. "Sounds like a case of the Mondays" ignores the difficulties that office workers face. This can be seen when Peter is talking to his neighbor Lawrence who works construction, which is known to be a difficult and more physically demanding job. Peter asks him if anyone has said to him "Sounds like a case of the Mondays" to which Lawrence offendedly replies "No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man." Lawrence's reply was so offended because in a job like construction people know the work is hard. If someone comes in on Monday not feeling well it is not "A case of the Mondays" it's you are about to start a week of really hard work. With construction, the difficulties of the work are up front and the workers know them. At Initech, the difficult parts of the job: nit picking TPS reports, broken printers, and the unnatural long periods of inactivity, are overlooked. If someone is not feeling well because of those difficulties it is seen as just "a case of the Mondays."

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          • #6
            The 1999 film Office Space highlights the typical white collar working of the 90’s and turns it into a comedy. It follows protagonist Peter Gibbons, whose attitude and outlook on life is constantly hindered from his job and bosses that he dreads going to everyday. While receiving hypnosis to relieve himself of the stress from work, Gibbons’ therapist unexpectedly dies in the middle of his session. At that moment, Peter realizes how short life is and attempts to loosen up at work and live a carefree lifestyle. He comes into work when he feels like it, takes down his cubicle to see the window, and refuses to wear business clothes to reflect his new careless lifestyle. Ultimately, this turns out to help him in his favor, as he gets promoted to a management position.

            Karl Marx’s theory that one’s purpose is to work, but once someone starts to dislike work and the conditions of their work, they become disconnected and alienated from who they are and become something one is not proud of. Comfort was the one thing that changed Peter’s outlook on his job. Once he was able to get out of his scheduled routine and stop complying to his boss, he became something he liked.

            Karl Marx says that once a worker hates their job, it is only when they are at home that they feel comfortable. He enjoyed his job when it became his “home”. He brought his fish from camping in and set it on his desk, he drilled off a wall of his desk blocking his view to the outside, and wore whatever clothes he wanted. His idea of comfort and home is not so abnormal to today’s office culture. With the birth of the tech boom came a new type of office culture that brings home to work. Now we are able to come to work in casual clothes, cook a meal in the kitchens, take a nap during work, or even play a game of ping pong. This lifestyle that is reflected in the movie has seeped into our culture years later.

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            • #7
              After watching this film called “Office Space” and never watching it before I can honestly say that the view that we get of Pete’s life and what seems to be his daily routine is very unfortunate. In terms of Ch. 7 of Daniel Frampton’s text there’s a portion of the film where Peter is seen trying to battle the daily traffic to work and he quite honestly looks miserable. The interesting part about this scene is the fact that no actual words are said throughout it yet we’re able to feel and see the growing frustration of Peter on his face. The example of “sound” is used from the text in the way that Peter never actually says a word or complains about being in traffic and instead we’re left seeing his long face and frustrated attitude. I would say if anything the attitude and long face is more effective than just complaining about everything wrong with his work because it’s almost as if he has nothing to say about it anymore. It’s like Peter has come to a point in his life where he’s just accepted the tough time he has to go through in the morning and one of those things is definitely battling all that traffic just to get to a job that he’s seriously regretting at the moment.

              Another thing that you pointed out how his multiple bosses keep on asking him what’s going on with the reports because they’re constantly wrong and also the lady who claims it’s “just a case of the Monday’s”. However, then Peter goes on to tell the Hypnotist that it seems as if every day is worst than the day before which would make every day that the hypnotist sees him his worst day of his life. This is a great example of Peter having his work be “external” to himself as referred from the manuscript of Marx. The quote states, “the fact that labour is external to the worker –i.e., does not belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy” (Marx 3). This is a great example as to what Peter is experiencing as he’s extremely disconnected from his work as he does feel as though it’s not a part of his essential being. He’s unhappy with his job that he has even to a point to describe every day being the worst day of his life and his job having a huge part in why that is. He’s disconnected from his work and this shows that if you aren’t truly happy with the job that you have then it will be very difficult to strive for a higher means in the job you have. We see that as soon as Peter is put into a hypnotic trance that makes everything seem a lot happier and brighter he’s able to catch the attention of the consultants and be promoted.

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              • #8
                Now a day people are working to make income and very few are doing something they enjoy, so there are a lot of weight on their shoulders. That being said, Office Space does a fine job at showing it. Peter Gibbons does not enjoy where he is working at and in the first scene we can already tell. Traffic, being talked down to, or just teased is putting Peter in a spot where he really hates what he is doing. This is the case for Joanna as well, she has requirements that she needs to do, but she chooses not to follow them. The environment that both characters are in are not suitable for them. So, whether it be the workers that Peter or Joanna are surrounded around or the actual job, either way, it is making their lives miserable. Then Peter goes and sees a hypnotist and Joanna gets fired, the amount of weight off their shoulders are also present. As they both feel carefree and actually happy.

                This allows us to see how life is when you are bogged down with work that you do not enjoy. The change of both Peter and Joanna also shows that when something so bad is off your shoulders, you should be happier because it is one less terrible thing to worry about. The role that many people are stuck with is sometimes difficult, but able to get a second view of what it would be like without it might be worth it. The difficulty part of letting something that is helping you out financially can be hard, but the ability to bounce back is where the change can be positive. Peter quitting his job and leaving his girlfriend is prime example, as he can now move on and do something he likes or be with someone else he likes more. The courage to do something like that might be hard, but if you want to be happy, you should take a leap and take a chance because maybe something will come from it. Not taking a chance and playing things safe will net you no rewards in the long run.

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                • #9
                  The disdain that the workers in the film feel for their work is pushed further by those typical statements of “case of the Monday's”. If someone really hates their job, then small quips every day like that can slowly build up a lot of anger for them and the job itself. Those quips kind of trivialize the nature of being unhappy. The phrase itself describes that Monday is the worst day of the week because you have to start a whole new week of unhappiness. Now obviously people could change their outlooks like Peter, but that is easier said than done. Not everyone could find happiness elsewhere in life and maintain that sort of job. As soon as Peter’s attitude changes he becomes happier but also not a very good worker. Marx described that a man was himself when he is not working and not himself when he was at work. Being comfortable at work is very important in order to retain some sort of content feeling with your job. The constant buzzing of un-comfortability would certainly take a toll on one’s psyche. After the fire, Peter is found later as a construction worker cleaning up the rubble. Michael and Samir talk to him and he seems much happy in this line of work.A more extreme example of discomfort leading to unhappiness and poor actions would be Milton’s response. He is constantly met with people not even really realizing his existence, which is opposite Peter's problem and responds by setting Initech on fire.

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                  • #10
                    I think you have uncovered a significant concept that the majority of the white collared population faces on a regular basis. It’s clear that the film demonstrates a lack of significance between the worker Peter (played by Ron Livingston) and the job. Peter describes his job as dull and effortless, a task that can be performed with little to no skill. I think the film does a great job backing up this concept in the opening scenes. Specifically, the scene with Peter’s boss, Bill (played by Gary Cole), harping on Peter if he ‘got the memo’. The flow within that scene just sets a monotone vibe that ultimately establishes this sense of discomfort with Peter and his surroundings.
                    Karl Marx’s piece that we read from Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 highlights this concept of self. The manuscript Marx writes, parallels this battle that Peter is fighting with his job. The more Peter continues in his job, the more he continues to lose of himself and his true nature. It wasn’t until Peter went through hypnosis and discontinued his effort at his job that he regained his sense of self. The plot of the film does a fantastic job validating this point by increasing the moral and overall tone of Peter’s voice upon his disengagement from his work.
                    I agree with your main question towards this concept of attitude relating to the human being, living in a state of comfort or a state of discomfort. I believe that one of the main questions that this movie is trying to ask parallels this concept. That if the work that you do is boring and unfulfilling and you must perform that task to survive, would a shift in attitude towards the situation increase the quality of life? I personally believe that if you must continue what you’re stuck doing, then make a conscious, deliberate, determined effort to change one’s attitude towards the situation. Ultimately, leading to a proposed direct correlation towards an increased feeling of being one’s true self.

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                    • #11
                      I immediately agree with you when saying that people nowadays dislike their job more than like them. It feels like when you ask people about their job, their usual response is to say “I work at ____. It’s pretty good money but I don’t like it very much.” This is why I like this movie so much, because it is a good representation of what people go through every day at work. Like you said, when the synopsis changes, Peter’s attitude changes for the better. He is happier and just seems to enjoy life a lot more. I definitely think that work (as well as life) is related to the attitude you put in to it. You can have the job of your dreams, but if you have a horrible attitude while working at it, you won’t enjoy doing it. On the other side, even if you have the worst job possible, you can always find a way to make it more enjoyable. I worked at a retail store for two years of my life. If you ask anyone who worked in retail, they will all tell you that it is a horrible job. However, when I was forced to work for multiple days in a row, or work overtime, I would literally put a smile on my face and be super excited when interacting with customers, and it unbelievably made the job more bearable for me. I would also go and talk to all of my co-workers when I got stressed or bored, so it made time fly by. In conclusion, I definitely think that everything you do in life is directly related to the attitude that you have while doing it. No one has fun doing anything when you make yourself grumpy, but If you simply think a different way about life and the way you do things, it will become immensely more exciting.

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                      • #12
                        In the film Office Space we follow an extremely likable protagonist named Peter Gibbons, a man who has the misfortune of spending most of his time in a monotonous and uninspiring work environment. Though, the lack of significant meaning to his job doesn’t seem to be a major source of his hatred for it. He is a man without ambition, and a life of meaning doesn’t seem to be something he gives much concern for. His only real problems with his job are with the company's management as well as the minor annoyances of the malfunctioning machinery and inconsiderate coworkers.

                        After visiting a hypnotist, Peter becomes carefree and stops holding on so tightly to his job. With this switch in mindset, Peter starts having some of the best days of his life, and is no longer suffering like he had been for so long. Hosborn asks “Is an attitude change all we need to make the workplace more bearable, more comfortable?” I believe this film’s answer to that question would be yes. Peter still hates his job after his change in perspective, but he is no longer miserable while working there. He seems to have come to terms with it. He’s accepted it for what it is, and so he no longer feels any reason to resist it. He decides, to be a “straight shooter”, relax, be himself and let the cards fall where they may. If he get’s fired, so be it. He becomes detached from the outcome, and is no longer clinging to the familiar and comfortable. Detachment of this sort is something that is advertised by varying philosophies as a healthy disposition to hold, and this film shows how the sudden transition into its mode of being can significantly alter one’s feelings of well-being. Peter seems to now find his job more bearable and is more comfortable in it, and the only thing that has changed for him is his attitude towards it, and life in general.
                        This subject of the “case of the Mondays” was mentioned in the original post. This problem seems to have falls away for Peter after his enlightenment experience. Or at least, for a few days following the experience. I would attribute this to his detachment, the fact that he is no longer clinging to the comfortable and resisting the uncomfortable. “A case of the Mondays” seems to be largely caused by one’s longing for the recently expired comfort of the weekend, while resisting the transition into the discomforts of labor. This puts one in conflict with themselves and reality, which ultimately leads to suffering and often a poor mood that is noticeable to others. This is why when Peter was forced into this state of detachment, he would have been hard set on mustering up a “case of the Mondays” even if he wanted to. Because that mindset was, for the time being, not in the cards.

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