The Working Man
The Working Man is an animated feature film, a funny and frightening investigation into the deterioration of self-worth in the contemporary American workplace.
Jim Charleston, a working stiff with an unrewarding day job doing data entry, a wife who barely knows he exists, and a terrible case of chronic insomnia, decides to accept a position as a phone support technician on the graveyard shift at a virtually empty, almost featureless office building. Before long, he's beset by loneliness and boredom, which turn to hallucinations and madness as he feels his sense of self begin to slip away.
The Working Man was shot with a barebones crew in the nearly anonymous landscapes of suburban Des Moines, Iowa, where the endless sea of interstates, office parks, and fast food restaurants provide a frightening setting for the story of one man's revolt against a system that seeks to strip him of his individuality. This offbeat film asks challenging questions about the culture of work in the United States, and the importance of job satisfaction. Pre-production research turned up frightening national statistics, revealing the almost total lack of job satisfaction among low-level workers in corporate America.
The filmmakers deliberately set out to produce a work that would engage its audience - make them laugh, but also challenge and frustrate them. They wanted to share with the audience the emotions experienced by the film's principal character, a man whose enthusiasm and interest in his job are increasingly complicated by a lack of responsibility, accountability, and productivity. The film, with its touches of surrealism and banality and its alternately obvious and subversive cinematic devices, demands a lot of its viewers.
Why has the culture of Work assumed a centrality in the U.S.? Why is it that, in the U.S., we "live to work," while other countries "work to live?"