The fact that freedom and choice do not maximize advantages (like we said) and choosing to be irrational makes us human reminded me of the movie Office Space. The beginning of the movie starts with Peter Gibbons following orders within his office and relationships. He is prey to his bosses’ orders, requests, and demands. He seems almost numbed by his mundane life, yet doesn’t know how to break free of the cycle. He goes to a hypnotist at his girlfriend’s request, and the hypnotist suddenly dies, coincidentally, before he can break Peter of the hypnosis. Peter continues life in this relaxed-state hypnosis, and breaks himself of the life that he hates by choosing to do what he wants, when he wants.
While the hypnosis is definitely cinematic serendipity, I think it’s applicable to existentialism and our discussion on Thursday. The average American goes around appearing to “live the American dream,” which is a checklist of a job, a girlfriend, a suburban house, and money; but, the American dream does not factor in happiness. It appears most disgruntled Americans are happy complaining about their desk jobs, while not really realizing the fact that there is more to life than the checklist. Peter, via hypnosis, realizes his unhappiness and makes amends- and chaos- while doing so. He chooses to be a single individual within the universal entity his unhappiness stems from, the company Initech. Peter and his two co-workers, Samir and Michael, completely destroy a fax machine, which they were previously enslaved to- the machine never worked, they constantly complained about it but did not have the power to do anything to fix it, save telling their bosses, who didn’t care enough to do anything about it.
Peter somewhat gains the mentality of the underground man. He wants to prove that he’s an individual. He doesn’t want to go with the company’s grain and grind anymore. While this is disadvantageous to fulfilling the “American dream,” it appears that Peter has already tasted the dream and found it unsatisfying. In the beginning of the movie, he follows all the rules, and is unhappy, bored, and looking for something more. By the end, he chooses to do nothing, and has never been happier. The problem with the underground man is that while he knows that going with the grain gets him closer to truth, happiness, and self-respect, he halts before he finds what path will make him happiest; he is content with living in squalor and pointing out what is wrong with humanity. It seems as if Peter continues along the path; at the end of the movie he is working with a construction crew and still friendly. It would seem a difference between Peter and the underground man is companionship. The underground man alienates everyone he comes across; Peter has friends of like mind who are supportive of his disgruntlement and helped him through his “crisis.”