The entertainment industry is a hard field to navigate, and I am excited to be a part of The Media Chronicles to assist others along the way!
Let’s admit it (very secretly, so as not to affect our careers): We all have at least one story about a boss past or present that is too bad to be true. From harassment to anal-retentive food orders to over-sharing, we’ve seen it all.
So perhaps this is why, when bosses show up in film, it’s hardly ever in a positive light. Forget Horrible Bosses, Hollywood was perfecting the antagonistic occupational overlord long before Colin Farrell donned his prosthetic forehead.
Next time you’re told to “throw away that dead cockroach”—a true story from my past—remember you really don’t have it so bad in comparison to these worst-boss-ever films:
His Girl Friday
For those of you out there with meddling bosses, this classic film is clutch. Cary Grant plays fast-talking newspaper editor Walter Burns as he tries to lure ex-wife/ex-employee Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) back into the workforce with a juicy scoop. Hildy claims to want to settle down for a quiet life as the spouse of her insurance salesman fiancé, but Walter thinks he knows better and spends the whole film convincing her otherwise.
Why this boss is worse than yours: Sometimes your boss may believe his or her wisdom and experience gives him or her the right to give you unsolicited life advice. However, I am willing to bet your boss has never utilized the police nor wrongly charged executions in order to enforce their advice. Your boss has most likely never gotten your partner arrested. You are also likely not your boss’s ex, which may be the epitome of an awkward workspace. In the end, Walter may have known what was best for Hildy, but in the real world I think it is fair to trust your own instincts.
Tale as old as time, am I right? Girl (Maggie Gyllenhaal) falls in love with boy. Boy happens to be James Spader playing a sadistic lawyer who is girl’s boss. Riding crops and urinating in wedding dresses ensue. It’s the ultimate love story. While the film is decisively about letting your freak flag fly, I think we can all agree the film centers on the power dynamic between a boss and his employee.
Why this boss is worse than yours: Sure, James Spader is one sexy devil, but unless you’re into masochism, the activities in his schedule might not gel with you. Spader’s Mr. Grey has set up an extremely abusive environment for his revolving door of secretaries. He makes you use a typewriter for all correspondence and literally punishes you for any spelling or grammatical error. Where’s HR when you need it? Maybe your boss yells at you. Maybe he or she has made you cry. But I am confident your boss has never put a carrot in your mouth and whipped you, and for that you can be thankful.
Another day, another TPS report. Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is hypnotized one night and wakes up to the realization that he no longer cares to tow the company line. He joins up with coworkers Samir and Michael to steal money from the company, all the while finding that his new attitude ends up paying off. There are so many iconic characters in the film, from Joanna with her lack of flare to Milton and his stapler. However, none are more memorable than the suspenders and smarmy demeanor of boss Bill Lumbergh.
Why this boss is worse than yours: Unfortunately, mundane tasks are a part of every job from time to time, if not daily. However, Bill takes almost perverse pleasure in assigning these projects to his employees. He ignores the concerns of his employees—though in all fairness, everyone ignores Milton—and obviously holds grudges against those he dislikes. He also sleeps with Peter’s love interest. Plus his voice is just horrific. If I had a boss who spoke to me like that, I would pack up my stapler and never come back.
So the next time you’re seething about something in particular your boss did, just pop in one of these films to remind you that you don’t have it so bad after all.