Office Space and Sorry to Bother You: Gen X vs Millennials in the Workplace

Intro by Maria

Welcome to Season 2 of Peculiar Picture Show. For this first episode of the season, Brandon and I decided to do a Super Special Double Feature Season 2 Opener and talk about two movies: The 1999 movie Office Space, and the 2018 movie Sorry to Bother You

If you haven’t seen it, Office Space is a film by Mike Judge, who you may know from Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill. The film centers on Peter, a young adult who works at a software company. His job is to update calendar dates for the upcoming year 2000, and every day is the worst day of his life, especially when he has to work. So he ends up seeing a hypnotherapist who hypnotizes him to help him relax, and in the middle of the session, the therapist dies, and we are left to assume that Peter is now in a permanent state of low anxiety. He starts acting like he doesn’t care, and his bullshit job ends up promoting him because of it, at the same time laying off his friends. They they devise a software virus to steal money from the company, and yada yada yada, they learn some things and end of the movie.

Sorry to Bother You is a film by Boots Riley, who you may not know from any other films because this is his first and only one, but he’s more known for his music and activism. The film centers on Cassius, also called Cash, Cash Green, who, like Peter from Office Space, also is a young adult. Cash works at a telemarketing company. He makes commission, and he’s poor. The movie is pretty complicated and pregnant with capitalism and existential metaphors and themes. Cassius eventually gets promoted and finds out he’s selling slave labor for a corporation. He finds out some other things, too, but I’m trying not to put spoilers in this intro, so I won’t go into the details, but be warned: If you do care about spoilers and haven’t seen this movie, watch it before you listen to this episode. It’s very nearly impossible not to talk about this movie without spoilers.

Both movies center around working and careers, so we compare and contrast them, spending a lot of time examining what they might be saying about Gen Xers and Millennials and their feelings about working and building a career. 

So that’s our Super Special Double Feature Season 2 Opener. We hope you enjoy. 

Show Notes

Overall Thoughts: Both Office Space and Sorry to Bother You sum up what their generations thought about the workplace

  • Disclaimer: WE WON’T BASH MILLENNIALS.
  • Disclaimer II: SPOILER ALERT for Sorry to Bother You.
  • Brandon picked these two movies because they are both satires and both deal with the workplace within their specific time frames.
  • Movies made 11 years apart and by two very different people.
  • SPOILERS: Maria LIKED it.
  • Gen X: 1965-1980.
  • Millennials: 1981-1996.

Like: Office Space was relatable, Sorry to Bother You made us think

Maria

Both: Satire and absurdity; characterization of settings; fun to watch play on names, communications.

Office Space: Relatable.

Sorry to Bother You: Humor; genre play; more of a visual film.

Brandon

Office Space: Extremely prolific and is precise in the way it defines office culture; extremely quotable.

Sorry to Bother You: More of an intellectual film and made me think about it for a long time; covers a lot of subjects; introspective; daring; comedic timing.

Dislike: Office Space is less relevant outside of the 90s, Sorry to Bother You left us with some questions

Maria

Office Space: Ending and theme is slightly confusing.

Sorry to Bother You: A lot of unanswered questions. What did Cash do in high school? Who was guy in mustang? Why did they bleep out that other guy’s name?

Brandon

Office Space: Its angst, now removed from the 1990s, is no longer relevant.

Sorry to Bother You: More removed from real life, like looking from the outside in and didn’t hit as close to home as Office Space did.

Mental Health: Gen X is sick of bullshit, Millennials search for meaning

Maria

General: Nothing stated.

Office Space: Hypnotherapy; mental illness instant cure seems false; being unhappy at work affects life in general (duh)

Sorry to Bother You: I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY.

Brandon

General: Difference between the generations are related to how parents treated them; Gen X more cautious and anxious; Millennials more willing to speak up because people listened; Gen X in the workplace want to just get the work done and Millennials want feedback and work in groups. Gen X great at finding flaws; existentialism and the meaning of life; authenticity; Gen X doesn’t want to be labeled and Millennials are more open to it.

Office Space: Departs from clear right and wrong rules and is about do what works for you; Peter Gibbons just decides not to participate in “life” and the BS.

Sorry to Bother You: Focuses on finding what matters to you.

Next Movie

Gandhi (1982)

Quotes

M: For Office Space, the movie takes the most annoying aspects of office life and blows it up to the extreme, turns it up to 500%.

M: I was just so pleasantly surprised by Sorry to Bother You, because I already came into Office Space and I knew it was going to be funny. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Sorry to Bother You; I hadn’t seen it. Some parts were just so, so funny. 

M: I loved the way [Sorry to Bother You] played with genre. The whole entire time I was just like, “Is it Sci-Fi? Is it comedy? Or is it horror? I don’t know,” and that just really worked with me.  

B: Office Space and Sorry to Bother You are true satires in that they’re using humor to make a greater point. They’re using humor to point at vices and say, “This is not all right.” They very succinctly summed up what Gen X and Millennials were frustrated with in the workplace.

B: [In Sorry to Bother You] It’s interesting seeing the mirror turned on Gen X—you have the greasy Gen X boss that’s like, “Nothing matters. All that matters is making money.”

B: Sorry to Bother You made me think of myself, because—there’s one line in Office Space where it’s like, “I don’t know why I just can’t go to my job and be happy,” and that’s really all the introspection there…but there’s a lot in Sorry to Bother You not just about how there are very greedy people out there, but how you specifically need to guard yourself against this greed and evil. You can’t sell out. And everybody in this movie sells out on some level.

B: Office Space started as making fun of office culture but ended as defining office culture for a long time.  

B: Sorry to Bother You made me think and made some very deep points because it doesn’t just touch on the office—it touches on racism, it touches on capitalism, it touches on all kinds of things. 

B: [On Sorry to Bother You] Cassius is metaphorically giving up his humanity in the pursuit of profit, and he doesn’t realize where it’s going until he is literally asked to give up his humanity.  

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