How Japanese Movies Satirize the Alienation of Work

Talk show actor Hu Lan told a joke. He said that all kinds of haunted houses nowadays, such as Resident Evil and the like, are not scary. They should be made with a theme of mid-life crisis. When you enter, you should check in first. Working overtime inside, there is no scary sound effect, just the sound of the keyboard, interspersed with the nailing sound of “Waiting for Deng” and “Deng Waiting for it”. I can also see some ghosts, whose Yintang has turned black due to the exhaustion of work, among those who are frantically pinching themselves, for fear of sudden death…

This joke that makes people laugh and cry is not only understood by middle-aged people, but anyone who has suffered from work probably understands it.

Just showing the real situation of migrant workers at work can already be used as a haunted house theme. What effect will it have if the concept of “time loop” that often appears in sci-fi movies is added? The Japanese film “The Time Loop Can’t End If You Don’t Let Your Boss Notice This Time Loop”, which was shown at this year’s Beijing Film Festival and Shanghai Film Festival, gave its own answer. Compared with this long Japanese title, its English name is much simpler, called “Mondays”, which is more painful than ordinary Mondays, and it may be the plural of Mondays.

Imagine that at this time you are very busy with the work at hand, and you are reminded by your junior colleagues, and you are surprised to find that the current week is going on incessantly, so what will you do next? The heroine Yoshikawa in the film is the team leader of the advertising planning department of a media company. As a “volume king”, her choice is to break the time loop and work harder to get the plan that the client wants in the loop over and over again. Improve it for the better. While other colleagues are focusing on how to break the cycle, Yoshikawa sometimes even wants the cycle to repeat because she is not satisfied with her work performance in the current cycle. As she told her colleagues, “I’m different from those of you who are not aggressive and stay where you are every day.”

Even if the sci-fi plot is reflected in reality, this class must be attended. What’s more ironic than this is that Yoshikawa, a person who always puts work first, would not realize that she had gone through many rounds without being reminded. The film has a meaningful setting. The first person to discover the time loop is Seiko, the most inexistent administrative officer in the office, followed by Yoshikawa’s two unreliable juniors, Endo and Murata. Maybe it’s because they don’t let work take over their lives that they have the time to look out the window and notice that the same pigeon crashes into the office window every Monday morning.

Zygmunt-Baumann wrote in “Work, Consumerism, and the New Poor” that the new factory system needed only a part of the human being, the part that worked like a soulless cog in a complex machine. And those useless parts of man, such as interest and ambition, and the desire for freedom in nature, not only have nothing to do with productivity, but also interfere with those useful parts that production requires.

“Mondays” not only satirizes the alienation of this work system to people, but also satirizes its own rigidity and obsolete. At first, Yoshikawa and the two juniors thought that to break the cycle, they only needed to smash the magic bracelet on the minister’s hand, but this was not something that could be easily achieved by talking to the minister. They had to follow the company’s rules. way to come. So an absurd scene appeared, and such an incredible thing as a time loop happened. Yoshikawa and the two juniors had to follow the level-by-level reporting system. Under the leadership of Heiichiro, the company’s largest leader, the permanent minister, was convinced by the method of “explanation session + PPT” that the time loop really happened.

The film’s progress bar is halfway through when they successfully smash the long bracelet, and it’s clear that the bracelet isn’t really the cause of the loop. In the second half of the film, we saw that it turned out that the manga dream that the permanent minister failed to realize when he was young caused a cycle. The solution was that all colleagues worked overtime to draw cartoons to help the minister fulfill his dream. Unfortunately, the timeline finally returned to normal.

The plot in the second half of the movie perfectly fits the self-deprecating stalk that workers often use- as long as I work hard enough, the boss can live the life he wants. Such a split plot has also caused dissatisfaction among domestic audiences. You can see countless complaints about this on Douban, which also explains why the film scored as high as 8.5 when it opened, and then fell all the way to 7.3.

This is very similar to another Japanese movie about the realities of the workplace, “I work in a black company and I can hardly keep going”. Also in the first half, it satirizes the realities of the workplace with various funny plots, and in the second half, it also turns to passion and inspiration, as well as the happy ending of colleagues leading a family.

The hero of “Black Company” is Masao Ogenda, who was once a cocoon dweller. He dropped out of school due to bullying in high school. During the years of living in a cocoon, he taught himself programming, and later passed the relevant qualification certificates. However, because he did not have a college diploma, he was frustrated when he returned to society to apply for a job. The only company admitted His company is the “black company” in the title.

The movie lists the six characteristics of black companies, namely: there are labor laws and do not abide by them, employees need to stay up late for several days in a row, there are emotionally unstable employees in the office, and colleagues with extremely low skills, frequent personnel turnover, And no reimbursement for necessary expenses.

Sanada’s company fits those traits perfectly. At the beginning of his employment, he had to suffer abuse and PUA from the emotionally unstable leader Abe every day, “Who else would hire you?” “Get off work on time, that’s an urban legend!”. In addition, he has to clean up and finish the work of his colleague Ide, who has low working ability but is very flattering. Working overtime, overwork, enduring unfair treatment and the tense atmosphere in the office, Sanada occasionally had to pay for work. Sanada was tricked by Abe to send a non-urgent document to the client, and when he came back, he was informed by the financial manager. Because you are a programmer, not a salesperson in the marketing department, it is not your job to send documents, so the fare cannot be reimbursed.

If Sanada had to stay in this black company because he had no choice in the early stage, then in the later stage, after he completed some projects well and accumulated some leadership experience, he still stayed in this black company, which made the audience unable to understand up. The arrangement given by the plot is to allow Sanada to develop something similar to revolutionary friendship while staying up late and overtime with all his colleagues to complete an impossible task. The completely different feeling of “being alive” in the cocoon before finally made this character willingly express with a bit of inspiration, “I work in a black company, maybe I can still survive.” Being exploited by a black company is terrible, and what is even more terrible is the pathological self-movement in the process.

Yoshikawa’s self-report and Sanada’s self-movement are both rationalizing the abnormal working state, and even internalizing it as a part of personality, and labeling it as aggressive and inspirational . Such a situation is by no means fabricated by film and television works to increase drama. On the contrary, it is not uncommon in reality. It can be said that our East Asian society has been encouraging this kind of behavior for a long time. However, after more than ten years of separation, these two films, after accurately capturing some migrant workers who were alienated into machines, invariably moved towards the blood, inspiration and sublimation in pain that Riying has always been good at at the end. This kind of creative laziness is also a kind of avoidance of the crueler truth.

Korean movies seem to prefer to show the cruel side of reality. “The Next So-hee” is adapted from real events. The first half of the film revolves around a vocational high school girl named So-hee, showing the whole process of her from walking out of the campus to committing suicide by jumping into the lake. In the second half of the film, Wu Youzhen, a policeman played by Pei Dou Na, appears on the stage. Under the background that the police station leader is eager to close the case by suicide, she investigates with all her strength, traces back the experience of So Hee before her death, and finally finds that even if she does it all over again, it seems that this young woman cannot be saved. , enthusiastic life, and what is more icy than the lake in winter is the whole set of social systems that do not treat people as people.

In South Korea, ordinary vocational high school students have to go to companies to complete three-month to one-year internships before graduation, and the internship employment rate is the data indicator that each vocational high school cares about most, because the Ministry of Education will use this as a basis to allocate funds . In order to strive for a higher internship employment rate, the school puts unreasonable tasks on each class, and the teachers of each class pass this pressure on to each student. This explains why the school that should protect Suxi Not only did he fail to take responsibility for the incident, but he also became an accomplice. Because they only regard Su Hee as a data in the whole wall statistics table.

Suxi is an intern at an outsourcing company of a large company. Her job is customer service by telephone. Every day she answers the phone, the people she faces are customers who want to unsubscribe from telecom services. What she has to do is to retain customers as much as possible, and Get them to subscribe to a more expensive plan. It is conceivable that Suxi suffered verbal attacks and mental pressure at work, but the company only valued performance .

At the same time, the company also sets performance goals that are too high for the interns to achieve, forcing them to work overtime. Even if some people who achieve the goals appear occasionally, the company will refuse to pay bonuses with various excuses. Su Hee’s former leader committed suicide because he couldn’t bear the pressure. Immediately after his death, the company sent someone else to take over his work, as if nothing happened and everything went on as usual. So-hees are just disposable tools for companies to throw away.

Even after death, without Wu Youzhen’s desperate insistence, the police station would be unwilling to invest resources in suicide cases in order to maximize efficiency. Suxi, like her former leader who committed suicide, can be settled as soon as possible Just a case report. Why they seek death, no one cares.

Most of the people in the movie, whether they come from the school, the education department, or the police station, are content to be docile screws in this system. Faced with Wu Youzhen’s questioning, their answer is often, “No way . ,this is the truth”. And Suxi is just a not so qualified screw, she will fight for her friends, she will fight with the cold-blooded new leader, she will fight for the bonus she deserves, she will also feel pain and injustice, despair and helplessness , this is all because she still has the “useless” part of being a human being. But it was precisely this part that caused her to be squeezed out by the system in a more tragic way.

“The Next So-hee” doesn’t offer the unconvincing happy ending that Japanese movies do, but it also doesn’t offer a solution to the system’s predicament, which isn’t a movie’s mission after all. Instead, in the last chapter of “Work, Consumerism, and the New Poor”, Zigmunt-Baumann has an idea, that is, to make work re-biased to the natural tendency of human beings, to restore the dignity of human instinct, to restore the socially recognized meaning, to abandon Blindly pursue efficiency and good-looking statistics. It means bringing people back to basics in a way.

Can this crazy social system really turn around? I look forward to it, but I can’t be optimistic.