Friday, January 11, 2013

Jill Sprecher's Clockwatchers: Take One

Jill Sprecher's Clockwatchers (1997) runs along a continuum of memorable movie and TV depictions of the post-World War II office milieu. It covers a social and technological setting more recent than AMC's Mad Men, before Office Space, and lately carried forth into the nightmarish underworld (akin to Philip K. Dick) depicted in the HBO series Enlightened.

It's conciousness-raising to sample Clockwatchers along with the rest of these, blending them together over a short period. Mind-blowing, really.  

What's very noticeable from the perspective of 2013 is:

1) The division of labor by gender in Clockwatchers (mid-to-late 1990s) is still largely intact from the Mad Men period (1960s).

2) In Clockwatchers, technology is just beginning to transition away from typewriter and landline-driven communications. As things stand among the temp workers of the mid-1990s, they still resemble the Mad Men period. This transition can clearly be seen increasing in speed by the time Office Space comes out in the late 1990s -- a mere two years after Clockwatchers.

3) In Clockwatchers, male bosses hand scrawled drafts to female secretaries who are expected to type them into impeccably polished letters -- if lucky, on IBM Selectric typewriters. A lot of letters and forms come in duplicate and triplicate, requiring extra care in processing. 

4) Most clocks are analog, not digital. 

5) There is a lot of time spent on manual filing systems that take up a lot of physical storage space.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  

Today's Rune: Signals.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I think I saw this. Am trying to get the vibe of ENLIGHTENED right now.

Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting how so few of those movies foresaw the digital revolution and the electronic storage age.