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A femme fatale trying to swindle thousands through her lover’s insurance company. Unemployed bikers on a drug adventure in New Orleans. People break printers at work.


Watch movies like “Double compensation,” “Easy Rider” and “Office premisesyou’d think Americans had never heard of it The Protestant Work Ethic— the spirit of sacrifice and delayed gratification that helped build capitalism.

Films like these show that many Americans now anti-labor sentiment may not be all that new. Like someone who has researched and taught world literature and cinema for more than a decade, I believe that some of the most compelling films make viewers ask, “What if all that hard work isn’t really worth it?”

The Pandemic and the “Great Resignation”

After the pandemic, more Americans are asking the same question than ever.

During what some have called “Great Resignation“many Americans have changed careers, quit bad jobs, or refocused on life away from work. More recently, the trend “quiet exitor doing only what they get paid to do has exploded on social media. The phrase is a bit misleading, as no one quits their job. Instead, workers refuse to hustle in the workplace, especially because going “above and beyond” often means working for free.

The recent wave of quiet smoking cessation is due to a deeper, longer-term divergence from hard work environment, unfulfillable roles and despite recent salary increasesinability of wages to keep pace with cost of living crisis for many working and middle class families.

Oddly enough, the drive to hyper productivity that some argue that a a central feature of capitalism is at the highest level. Workers are told that if they “doing what they love“, work should never feel like a burden. Some theorists compare the current forms of work culture, especially in Silicon Valley, to religion in their attempts to instill passion and meaning in people.

These events created a backlash, especially among younger generationstowards work-life balance, flexible schedules and deeper focus mental health.

But some people have gone even further when philosophers question the very foundations of existence a society based on achievement leading to rampant burnout and depression. Political theorists and anti-labour movement asking how more free time can be created for everyone, not just those who can afford to quit or take jobs where they will earn less money.

Crime as an alternative to work

Yet such anti-labor sentiment is nothing new to American culture.

Charlie Chaplin’s characters may have first expressed an anti-labor spirit, most famously in the 1936 film Modern Times, in which his character works too slowly on an assembly line and ends up in cogs of a giant machine.

During World War II, crime became an allegory for the anti-labor spirit: low effort, high reward.

The film noir The genre often explores the existential and psychological factors that drive people to commit crimes of passion.

In many noir films a cancer woman-that is, a woman who seduces men as part of a larger criminal conspiracy to succeed financially. This type of character is often indicative of a cultural fear surrounding what women can do to remedy their dissatisfaction at home and at work.

For example, in “Double compensation” (1944), Phyllis Dietrichson, unhappily married to a wealthy older man, seduces insurance salesman Walter Neff. They conspire to frame her husband’s murder as an accident and collect his life insurance money. A similar crime of passion against the wealthy the husband also has a place in “The postman always rings twice(1947).

Joseph H. Lewis “Gun Crazy” (1950) tells the story of Bart and Laurie, who “can’t live on 40 bucks a week.” They begin a series of robberies, which allows them to live without work for a while. After Bart learns that Laurie has killed two people, he exclaims with remorse: “Two men are dead – if only we could live without working!”

Youth rebellion and counterculture

With the advent of the 1950s, the anti-labor ethos became associated with youth culture.

A new generation of “hooligans,” hippies, and castaways are ill-suited to the traditional workplace, starting with Marlon Brando’s leather-jacketed motorcycle rider in “Wild” (1953) and James Dean in “A rebel without a cause(1955).

Easy Rider” (1969) tells the story of two unemployed bikers who, after a lucrative drug deal, stop in a New Mexico commune and admire the subsistence economy there. They continue to New Orleans and meet Jack Nicholson’s George Hanson, who tells them, “It’s really hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the market.’

Hanson goes on to contrast the working world of America with the freedom of a hypothetical alien species with no leaders and no money. A counterculture is crystallizing.

Sloths and sabotage

In the popular culture of the 1990s, the ideal of the “slacker” was established.

The apathetic, unemployed or underemployed young man appears in films such as “Stunned and confused(1993), “Bites of reality(1994), “Friday(1995) and “Big Lebowski” (1998).

Richard Linklater”Slut” (1990) tells the story of a group of unemployed, crooks, and idlers in Austin, Texas, in their off-hours. One of these men says, “Damn the work you have to do for a living. …I may live badly, but at least I don’t have to work to do it.” He ends with the stirring statement: “To all of you workers, every commodity you produce is a piece of your own death!”

However, a slacker doesn’t just try to work as little as possible. Some are actively trying to sabotage the workplace. in “Clerks» (1994) two workers are deliberately rude to customers, play hockey on the roof and visit a friend during working hours.

Office premises” (1999) tells the story of three workers who, frustrated with their company’s malfunctioning printer, decide to hit it with a baseball bat before infecting the office computers with a virus.

And in “Fight club” (1999), Tyler, played by Brad Pitt, sneaks pornographic clips into family movies while working as a movie theater operator. The narrator, played by Edward Norton, describes Tyler as a “guerilla terrorist of the food service industry” after “seasons” of Tyler serving plates of food at a posh hotel with various bodily fluids.

Recent cinema is moving towards open anti-capitalism

The 21st century has witnessed the rise of a whole series of foreign films and television shows with obvious anti-capitalist themeswith dramas like “Rare money“(2017)”A parasite” (2019) and “Squid game” (2021) focuses on the heroes’ struggle with economic inequality.

This trend can be seen in American cinema as well.

in “Sorry to bother you” (2018), workers are so desperate for economic security that they sell themselves into slavery in a company called “WorryFree”. The satire follows Cassius Green, an African-American telemarketer who, eager to climb the corporate ladder, makes deals with international companies to use WorryFree’s slave labor. Although “Chloe Zhao” is not so overtly anti-capitalist,Nomadic country” (2020) paints a portrait of an America where jobs are increasingly seasonal, temporary, and precarious, leaving people adrift as “nomads.”

Americans have long had a distasteful attitude toward work, viewing it as alienating, exploitative, or simply without real benefit.

Hustle culture and “grinding” may still dominate America. However, a growing number of theorists now argue that technological automation and major social change could lead to the world beyond work with more free time for everyone.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to pay attention to what these movies are saying: Maybe work isn’t the key to happiness, contentment, and the good life.


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Citation: “Quietly quit”? If America’s Anti-Work Movement Surprised You, Maybe You Need To Watch More Movies (2022, October 7) Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-quiet-youre-america- anti-work-movement.html

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