A new major award pays homage to the best scenes about the American workplace.
My car has a feature where I can “favorite” a song or artist on the radio. Some of my favorites include Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Eminem, Billy Joel, Metallica, Aerosmith, Warrant, California funk rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ben Folds, Regina Spektor, and songs like Don McLean’s American Pie and The Smiths How Soon Is Now to name a few.
I was driving home from a baseball tournament when one of my favorite songs came on the radio—Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta by Geto Boys. That got me thinking about Office Space, the movie that features the song, which in turn got me thinking about all the great scenes from movies and TV shows about working in an office.
In the spirit of major awards shows like The Oscars and Emmys, I was inspired to create “The Offys”. These prestigious awards are given out for excellence in portraying office life in America. The criteria the judges (me) abided by when selecting the winners are:
- The scene has to be set in or related to working in an office.
- I had to have seen the movie; no Glengarry Glen Ross entries here.
- Only one clip per movie or TV show.
Without any further adieu, allow me to present The Offys:
The Best Office Movie and TV Scenes Maguire: “Show Me the Money”
Tom Cruise plays the title character in Jerry Maguire, a hot-shot sports agent who, during a crisis of continence, writes a 25-page manifesto imploring his fellow agents to put personal relationships above the win-at-all-cost competitiveness that dominates their industry. Maguire’s manifesto goes over like a lead balloon causing the other agents at his firm to poach his clients like ravenous piranha, leaving him with one last client, the enigmatic wide receiver Rod Tidwell. In the end, Jerry shows Rod the money, but it comes at a steep cost.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
You might be saying to yourself, Star Wars has absolutely nothing to do with working in an office, but you’d be wrong. One of the things we do in offices is have meetings…a lot of meetings. Star Wars has more than its fair share of conference room meeting scenes. This meeting on the Death Star is interrupted by none
other than Darth Vader. In response to someone’s doubt about the Force, Vader delivers his memorable line: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
Friends: “The Moist Maker”
Friends became a pop culture sensation by depicting the life of New York City 20 and 30-year-olds in the 90s. One particularly memorable moment came from the fifth season’s ninth episode, titled succinctly “The One with Ross’ Sandwich,” where Ross Geller flips out after realizing a colleague not only ate the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich he brought to work for lunch but also he didn’t even finish it—and threw some of it in the trash. The sandwich was the infamous “Moist Maker,” which Ross proclaims was “the only good thing going on” for him at that moment in time.
Parks and Recreation: “Child Size Drink”
In this episode, newly-elected city councilwoman Leslie Knope proposes her first bill, a tax on all the city’s sugary sodas, to discourage citizens from drinking them. She meets with the local restaurant association to discuss the terms of her bill and to question the reasoning behind the city’s growing drink sizes. Cue the b-roll of residents these massive sodas are afflicting, and we find out how just large a “child” size soda is in Pawnee, Indiana.
The Matrix: “Your computer is not on, Neo”
Early on in The Matrix, Neo’s avatar, Thomas Anderson, is stuck in a dead-end programming job at a tech company. He is sitting in his cubicle staring at a blank computer screen when he answers a mysterious call on a phone he just got in the mail. I’ve never understood why Neo’s computer is not on in this scene. Isn’t he supposed to be working? Nevertheless, a heart-pounding chase ensues where he narrowly evades agents from The Matrix only to be apprehended when he loses his nerve while standing on a ledge high outside the building. The scene is a metaphor for escaping work and sets the tone for Neo’s impending clash with the forces of evil inside the computer-simulated reality.
The Office: “Fire Drill”
Picking just one favorite scene from The Office is like being asked which kid is your favorite. It was a tough call that ended up in a three-way race for the judges (again, me) between Jim and Pam’s wedding, the CPR episode, and the ultimate winner, the fire drill. In this scene, Dwight stages a too-realistic fire in the office to test the office’s fire safety skills, but things go from bad to worse when Stanley suffers a heart attack, causing Michael to come up with ways to relieve stress around the office. I’ll pull this clip up every once in a while when something goes wrong at work. It can’t help but make me smile and lets me know things aren’t that bad after all.
Office Space: “Printer Beat Down”
Like The Office, there could be an entire list of “best of” scenes from Office Space, Mike Judge’s rebuke of tyrannical corporate culture. A few examples include Peter’s meeting with “the Bobs,” somebody’s got a case of the Mondays, “PC Load Letter” notifications, Lumbergh’s TPS Reports, the Jump to Conclusions Mat, Jennifer Aniston’s pieces of flair, I could go on. The winner and #1 overall office scene goes to Peter, Samir, and Michael Bolton’s battle with an uncooperative printer. In this iconic scene, the guys get their revenge on it. Gangsta indeed.
That’s a wrap on the 1st Annual Offys. Did one of your favorite office scenes miss the list? Let me know.