Office Life or death

I’m a bit late reporting on this, so I apologize for having had other things to say instead, but my potential appearance as a superstar celebrity awesome guy on the upcoming reality show Office Life has been been kiboshed.*

This is neither surprising nor upsetting. We, as employees of an organization that pays us to do work and not — I must say — monkey around for a camera, were only told that management discussed it and decided that the cons outweighed the pros. Being as my own personal list of cons consisted entirely of “We go out of business because we were made to look like idiots” and my own personal list of pros consisted entirely of “We get to be on television,” I have to agree.

There’s more I’d like to say on this subject, as I’m not sure I’m entirely finished processing it, but I did want to update about this to say that there would be no forthcoming updates about this, except for the update about this that I will write when I decide what I want to say in my update about this.

THANKS FOR READING

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* My browser’s spell checker doesn’t like the word “kiboshed,” and wanted me to type out “had the kibosh put on it” instead, but I kiboshed that noise.

Office Life interview post-script

The interviews were held today for Office Life, and, ultimately, it was about what I expected. A Skype interview to test how easily we could be shaped in an editing booth to fit preconceived notions. Don’t ask me why I expected anything different. I honestly don’t know.

A few of the folks being interviewed really want to be on television. There were assurances tossed around about how “crazy” they are and unpredictable and other things that no doubt reflect very well upon them as employees. Somebody even stood up and did a little dance.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be on television, of course. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe the premise that they pitched to us (“a show about how small business is the key to revitalizing America’s economy”) worked its magic on me in spite of everything I read about the show beforehand, and which was unsurprisingly absent entirely from the interview, in which they instead wanted us to act zany and classify each other into character types like the whip-cracker, the party animal and the mother hen. The might as well have asked us to identify the Dwight, the Kelly and the Phyllis.

My The Office comparisons yesterday were mainly in jest. Now I guess they were just prescient. They want to know this stuff in advance so that they can save themselves the hassle of actually learning something about their subjects, or — horror of horrors — having to deal with a group of people that don’t line up exactly with fictional characters they know from T.V.

They’re coming to film the office next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m not sure how I feel about that, and based upon the interview (from which I checked out pretty quickly, as it became all too clear all too quickly what kind of show they were hoping to produce) I might decline to sign the release form, leaving it to folks who are more comfortable making themselves look deliberately foolish in front of strangers. But we’ll see. They’ve tried to reassure us by saying that they don’t want to milk our jobs for drama, because if they got a reputation of damaging businesses nobody would pick up their series. Which is obviously and entirely true; that’s why you absolutely never see people on television who have screwed other people over to get there. It’s an entirely self-policing process that weeds out any trouble makers and I’m sorry I can’t finish typing that sentence with a straight face.

I’m not saying that I’d particularly like to costar in a documentary series, but I’d at least be open to the idea. But I don’t want to costar in a broad comedy, particularly one deliberately manufactured from “real life” material in which all the scenes that don’t feature archetypal behavior are cut for time and tedium.

In Vineland, Thomas Pynchon famously wrote that “The camera is a gun.” The older I get, the more sense that observation seems to make. It’s often wisest to move out of the way before it starts shooting.

Part of me is still open-minded, but it’s a much smaller part of me now. I’m trying to stay optimistic, but hope no longer springs eternal.

Hope instead springs ’til about next Tuesday.

Perhaps, maybe, sorta, I’m possibly going to be on TV, in theory.

I realize that this is a pretty bizarre first (proper) post, but timing is never something I’ve had particularly great control over so, here goes: there’s an upcoming television series called Office Life (or OFFICE LIFE if you are as fond of caps as the show’s producers), and my office has been shortlisted to appear.

How short is the list? Well, I’m being interviewed along with several other employees tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll post updates as I hear them, but essentially we’ll be followed around by a camera crew as we go about our daily work days, and the footage will be edited and assembled into half-hour weekly installments. This should sound familiar, as it’s the exact same setup as the heartbreakingly brilliant British comedy The Office. It’s also the same setup as the preposterous live action American cartoon of the same name.

I’m not sure what to think of this, really. Part of me, obviously, is quite excited. When you know you are being considered for television the camera becomes much less intimidating than, say, when you’re sloppily consuming chili dogs at a baseball game. So there’s a bit of excitement, sure. And there’s a lot of flattery, considering the fact that I was picked (alongside several others) to represent the company out of a pool of about seventy. That’s very nice, and some very kind things were said to me by the managers who chose me.

But the casting notice is a bit worrying.

“Of course we are looking for offices that may have some drama,” says Brendon Blincoe, President of Iconic Casting. “Nearly every office has a staff of characters that make it unique, from the ‘office flirt’ to the ‘office know-it-all’ to the ‘office brown noser’. We want all kinds of people and all sorts of businesses, but you must work in a conventional ‘office’ setting with cubicles, suites and be in an office building or office park.”

The grammarian in me is first concerned by his bothersome usage of the term “unique” to describe a situation in which all of those present fit into predetermined archetypes, but mainly it’s that first sentence that worries me.

Drama. Personally, I’m not afraid of drama. I sprinkle it everywhere I go, like Johnny Appleseed. But for the company? I’d hope they’d think twice.

Evidently they spoke to the casting folks, though, and were assured that they weren’t here to rake muck, and we’ve got veto power over this whole shabazz anyway, but part of me still does question the wisdom of this thing.

The other part of me just knows he will become a huge television celebrity and live in a mansion with robot butlers.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. And since everyone’s bound to wonder, the answers are Malcolm and Toby.

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