(Originally placed online in 2000. Am migrating here from another part of the website.)
Unusual for him to do while watching a film, about a quarter of the way through Paths of Glory my husband got up, went in and sat in front of the computer to check the email. I waited a moment then asked, “Can’t watch?” “No,” he said.” “It’s too real and people are too stupid.”
Paths of Glory may be anti-war, but it also contemplates your basic problems in “power over” hierarchical structures. Actually, it’s anti-war primarily through exploration of what happens when you take your typical business situation only instead of bottom-level employees you have infantry privates, and the pyramid of managers ranges from non-coms to commissioned officers to the Board of Directors parading about as Generals, occasionally visiting the floor all nice and friendly like, querying all the clerks and hosts and hostesses and stock personnel, “Hey, you ready to smile and sell today?” Most people would do well to ask themselves (at least those with a thread of cynical honesty in their blood) how they think they’d fare as an infantry private under any number of managers/bosses they’ve had. Think dealing with people’s lives lends any more responsibility and/or intelligence than pushing the employees to sell more, sell more?–hey buddy, you, the one leaning against the wall, I don’t care if you have been busting your ass all day and are taking a brief breather, I want to see all my little chickens out in the aisles doing something continually even if the something means and merits nothing, so you get out there and sell yourself because it’s not just product we’re interested in pushing we want to project an image that’ll make the civilian sigh and say, “Wow, they really care about people there, don’t they. Instead of going to church this Sunday, what say we go down to the local Wal-Mart.”
Scary to think how capriciously my life would have been handled, considering some of the people I’ve worked under, if we had been dressed in military fatigues.