Thursday, March 27, 2008

He was a Quiet Man -- Disappointing office violence

The plot line (and DVD cover) is intriguing -- Bob (Christian Slater), an office worker in a "cubicle farm," has had it and is ready to "go postal." He has the gun, he has the bullets, he even has the list of coworkers as his targets. Yet, when the day comes to do the deed, his cubicle neighbor beats him to the punch . . . or the shots in this case.

Having killed several people, one woman, Venessa (Elisha Cuthbert), lies wounded and he prepares to kill her. Bob steps in and shoots the killer instead of his coworkers. In doing so, he both saves Venessa's life and becomes a hero, a celebrity. The movie develops from here. Venessa winds up a quadriplegic, hating Bob for saving her life, and asks him to help her die. Throw in William H Macy as the CEO and a talking fish, and you have this quirky movie.
Despite the intriguing plot line, He was a Quiet Man is disappointing and not to be recommended. It does not really know if it is a comedy, a tragedy or a serious drama. And that is its downfall. It tries to be all three and falls flat. It takes its title from the common statement given by a neighbor when asked to comment on what happened. Bob is a quiet man, keeping himself to himself.
The movie does raise the issue of living as a quadriplegic or dying via assisted suicide, but this was better addressed in such recent Oscar-winners as Million Dollar Baby and The Sea Inside, so I won't address this issue here. A better issue, more apropos to the direct plot line, is how we deal with the frustrations of work-life. All work has the capacity to boredom and frustration. All jobs have their share of grunt-work. How do we handle this frustration?

Further, how do we interact with our co-workers? Do we belittle them, embarrass them, treat those below us on the corporate hierarchy as minions or peons? If we do so, we likely add to their frustrations and stress. So, ethically, how should we handle our jobs? If frustration mounts, should we resort to office violence? No. Paul says, "whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). Even undesirable grunt work can be done for God's glory if we do it for him.
Copyright 2008, Martin Baggs

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