Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby to get ourselves a treat. Hello, and
welcome to movies versus capitalism and anti capitalist movie Podcast. I'm Rick de Rivera.
And I'm Frank Capello. Hey, Frank, happy
Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
You are a born on an 11th day of the month as a mind. That's right. We're both elevens a very anti capitalist number
classic anti cap number. Although I'm a Pisces, and you are what have you again?
Oh, I'm a Capricorn. Oh, I'm a major Capricorn. That's
right, of course.
So you have something in your chart that like you're very organized the way a Capricorn would be, too.
Yeah, there's something I'm not sure my full chart but there's like I have a rising moon or something in there. That's very type A because yeah,
yeah, you should see our prep for this show. It comes off casual, but we have quite the spreadsheet. Yeah, I
just had that whole line written out. I don't know what my mood or my rising. But yeah, birthday was good. celebrated with some friends. It was very nice. 35 Here we are now I could be president, which is exciting. Will you be?
I hear there's a primary coming up.
I am considering now that I am of legal age. I am considering it. I'm considering a run. I've got an exploratory committee going. So
that'd be a cool sci fi movie. Like, as you come of age, everybody has to put in some kind of like bid or thesis for presidency. And everyone gets like, a vote like fair consideration. Yeah, you may have to do it. Okay. I'm, that's my idea.
Yeah, well edit this out. So no one no one steals this idea. How are you doing? How is? How's Puerto Rico? How's the family?
I'm good. You know, the family is good. It's been nice. Because I'm out here working on a project with my dad. We're working on a documentary about memory. So he, as a filmmaker, you know, captured a lot of my, I guess a lot of people you know, it's so much, much more prevalent now that you would capture every moment of your child's life. Sure, there's a child of the 90s it wasn't you know, my dad was the one with a camcorder. But he was a cinema Verity filmmaker. So it wasn't like, oh, the camcorder comes out for like one great moment or the cake or the it's like the whole birthday party is filmed. Got it just wild, which I appreciate now, but I have like two hour movies of my birthday party of just the slow moments of everyone eating cake of like opening the presents. It's wild. So much B roll. Yeah, so much B roll. But we're we're looking back at all that and using it as a way to explore memory. What on earth memory is how we both have different experiences POV. So I think we're both going to take sections and do our own cuts edits and see how we see the past. That's very cool. Little trauma involved. It's you know, so I always is I'm definitely it's been an intense trip. But there's but it's been beautiful weather. So trauma and coconuts is not the title, a terrible title.
It's pretty good title. It's pretty good title.
It is that it is the title for my vacation.
That's very exciting. Your dad's episode of the show that he did last week with us modern times has been getting a great response. And I really enjoyed that conversation. So I would I am very interested in any any work that the two of you produce together.
Thank you. It was also a big weekend because we had the Oscars, Hollywood's
brightest night. I don't know why I said it like that. There's a there's a level of pomp and circumstance that goes with the Academy Awards. So did you get a chance to watch them?
I did not. I could have I could have streamed them. But I did feel like I don't want to spend my last night you know, I don't get to see my family don't hear often. And I didn't want to waste it. Yeah, that was the right choice. And I figured the way it's you know, the way we watch it now is we watch it the morning after in clip format. But you watched it. And I also knew you were going to watch it and we were going to talk about it. So I figured I could get a lot of highlights from you and my tic tock feed.
Yeah, I haven't watched the entire telecast all the way through and I think a few years but wanting to make a point of watching it this year, so we could chat about it. It was the Oscars. It was the same as always, nothing notable happened like within the show itself. I mean, obviously the big. The big news of the night was that everything everywhere all at once. One of my favorite movies from last year, same swept pretty much every category that it was nominated in, it took, I think seven of like the big awards. Michelle Yeoh for best actress kikoy Quan, for Best Supporting Actor Jamie Lee Curtis best supporting actress, best directors, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing. and Best Picture.
Yeah, it was exciting and also well deserved. And not surprising.
I agree. And I'm sure there are some people who were like, you know, tar was like a far superior, blah, blah, whatever your pick was. But I think it's very exciting for such a weird, cool, entertain entertaining story centered around a working class immigrant family. That is a genre piece that is this inventive and strange. I mean, I remember leaving the theater after seeing it last year. And thinking to myself, that might be one of the best movies I've ever seen that I was just blown away. By it's marriage of style and substance, which I think is something very hard to pull off the you know, there was so much going on in it stylistically, visually, plot wise, storytelling wise, but also had a really, really strong beating heart, which is the story of this family and all of these familial dynamics. And I loved it so much. So I am so excited that it got all these flowers. These are the kinds of movies that I think should be awarded. Agreed, especially my last point on this is very often Best Picture winners are movies that are like, technically and artistically very good. But you're like, I don't need to see that ever again. Like a classic example is whichever year like The King's Speech, one over the social network. And for me, one of the hallmarks of a best picture is a movie that I want to rewatch over and over again, and I've seen the social network a dozen times, and I will never watch the King's speech ever again. You know what I mean? Same thing for everything everywhere. Like I've already seen it a couple times, and I will gladly rewatch that movie anytime. It is just on TV. So those are my big picture. Thoughts. What about you?
Yeah, no, I loved everything everywhere, all at once. But it was such an emotional response. Because I remember being really depressed and going to see it and fully pulled me out of my depression. I immediately was like, such a fucking or I was like, that was a really great drug. That really? Yeah, it was phenomenal. And, and then, you know, it's interesting, because some films like I remember that feeling there. And I remember certain moments, I think it's so jam packed. There's so much happening. It didn't. It didn't ruminate with me. Like, it wasn't a long lasting feeling the way for example, after sun, which I was pissed that she wasn't nominated as a director. I mean, that movie to me was like, that still haunts me, and was like a slow haunt. You know, I thought that was just one of the best movies of the year. But I think the further and further away, I get from the Oscars of my childhood and the Oscars of the 90s. The more I'm willing to just the more I'm okay with the fact that it's like bullshit, you know, and the more I'm you know, it's not that I don't love because thinking about this I love award shows. I not a word shows. No, that's not what I meant to say. I love the ritual of getting together with a group to celebrate artistry. Yeah. And I think as I've gotten older, and the curtain has been lifted, I've had to come to terms with the fact that that is not what the Academy Awards is. And there's still an inner child that really wishes it was and I still have affinity and recognize as an actor. That that is something that, you know, seeing Michelle Yeoh win. And so there's something still there about that representation about that honoring of the work, but it's such a fucking moment of like, absolute paradox, where you're like, What the hell like, we're competing, and this is all about money. Like I hate to break it to people who aren't aware. But the the way you win an Academy Award is you have a lot of fucking money behind you. And there's a whole campaign put forth by a studio. Yeah, or like a group of wealthy people. And that was sad for me or whatever. Yeah, and really disappointing when I figured it out. Because we came from, you know, the peak of viewership of the Oscars was 1998, when they had 55 million people watching, I don't know how many people watched last night, but it was last year, it was like 13 million, you know, we don't stream it anymore. It's not the same thing. It's not like sitting down and having your hearts out and really believing like we are honoring like the best actor and the best acting and I'm like, oh, that shit doesn't exist. It's a fucking objective like, subjective, subjective, objective,
Honestly, not even either. It's just it's politics.
It's politics. But I mean, like to say like, Oh, Frank, like, I love that performance. And you're like, I didn't, and I'm like, well, one of us is right. Let's fucking figure it out and award it.
Yes, you're completely right. There is that paradox of how do you how do you quantify artistry? How do you actually measure okay, you know, we're crunching the numbers. This person's performance or this person's directing or writing whatever was 6.7 Better than this other you know, like it's Yeah, as soon as you start, I love ritual
I don't want to it's complex and what I hate, I love ritual. I love dressing up. I love everyone getting together. But this, this ain't it. And yet I still have a part of me that wishes it was, you know, and there's still those moments. What did you think of the speeches because there were some really beautiful moments, but I found myself. I mean, of course, it was so incredible. We have Michelle Yeoh, the second woman of color ever, to women winning an Academy Award, I think it was Halle Berry was the last one right for best actress, best actress, first Asian actress. So there's all these things that are like, obviously, so important for our representation. And yet I found myself I think it was in key heroic one speech, talking about the American dream. And this American Dream narrative, which I found really disappointing because again, if you're filtering through this ideology that like, if we break this glass ceiling, to even be there, it's you're so in the minority. So the suggestion that if like, this is making it, I don't know, and I don't want to take away from the the beauty of that moment, and how and how true that is for that feeling of that time. But I just, I'm like, when is the speech going to come? And I'm sure there have been some that I'm not aware of where someone is just like, This is amazing. I'm so it's so amazing that I am here, breaking this glass ceiling. However, like this, this is an illusion. People know, like, this doesn't mean what you think it means. And I'm not going to feed into that narrative. Like, if you look at me, you could be here. You know what I'm saying? Yeah, no,
I think that is such a good and important point. And I had that same thought, during key leucon speech during Michelle Yeoh speech because she also, I think, had a line about like, this is what dreams are made of this is she did you know, follow your dreams that is very often a line that we here at award shows, not just the Oscars, any award show, you know, just but you're you're watching someone who has risen to the highest level in their artistic field, industrially as high as you can get in this specific field. And you have people coming on stage being like, this is what happens when you can follow your dreams. And it's just unrealistic. It's unrealistic and perpetuates
that. Yeah, that narrative of the bootstraps narrative. The there's not other stuff. Again, there's not other things going on. I mean, an honest American
Dream narrative like yeah, just like you, we can all we can all have it if we just work hard enough. And the unfortunate truth is, that's not how it works.
And there's gotta be a way to celebrate, like, it's so beautiful to be honored, and that this work is seen. And this story is told, without perpetuating that, but I can understand it as well.
Well, Daniel Kwan, who's one of the Daniels who directed everything everywhere are all at once in, I forget, they had me if they had like three acceptance speeches, but in one of them, I think it was the last one, Daniel Kwan held up his Oscar and said, This is an impossible standard, like do not or he said something like that, like, this is an impossible standard. This is amazing. But like, this doesn't happen for everybody. So he said something like that, like he, he spoke to that exact point that you're making, which is like, as excited as I was for quixote and for Michelle Yeoh. And as much as I think that they deserve it, and I wanted them to be celebrated to hold up your Oscar, which you might not have gotten like it had had, you know, had a 24 not campaign to the way that it did had this movie not broken through, you know, like, you might not have had it. And then the whole this is what dreams are made of this is the American dream, you can get this narrative just like goes away. And I don't know, especially as you know, those messages are going out specifically to younger artists. And while hope is good, and while encouragement is good, and you know, ambition and drive and all of that stuff, something that I mean, I know you and I both experienced this as younger actors, younger artists, no one coming in and just being like, Yo, here's actually the material reality of being a struggling artist, especially a working class struggling artists that like you might not be getting taught about because all you've heard is follow your dreams, and you'll make it happen right?
When the 1% of that is held up. As see we can do it but that's still such a minority equation. And I don't mean by Rep, not just representation, but just anyone at the Academy Awards. I think it was not a thing that everyone's tweeting about that was really awkward between Ashley Graham and Hugh Grant on the red carpet but he didn't say he was like I don't want to give this whatever but he goes What did he say? He was like the world is here. I'm like, No, you
said all he said all of humanity is here. All of humanity is
here as a boy. No, they're not That's the point. That's literally the point. Yeah, the
Oscars is a very elite space. And yet,
we've talked about previously, like, of course, what matters, it means that this film winning, that's in vogue now. So potentially, there's like going to be repercussions of more funding for things that are similar to, you know, it does representation does matter. And the stories being out do matter. And yet, there's all of the paradox that we just discussed,
we're celebrating, but we can also and need to be critical at times, because it's important to be able to take away the good things and talk about the things that we want to improve upon. You know, everything's good, Everything's bad. It's very, you know, this conversation is very thematic to everything everywhere all at once, which is
like, everywhere, all at once. And so who are we were the two rocks and everything. That's who I wanted to. I was my favorite scene. That was a good one. Okay. Well, we have a great conversation today.
Yes, we do. This is an exciting one, we have Adam McKay. On maybe you've
heard of him. Speaking of Academy Award, yeah,
our first Academy Award winner. But before we get to that conversation real quickly, I just want to let you know that this podcast is brought to you by the lever, a reader supported investigative news outlet, which reports on the people and corporations manipulating the levers of power in our society, you can go to lever news.com to find all of their original reporting.
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We're going to take a break but we'll be right back with our conversation about office space with Adam McKay. Our guest today is an Academy Award winning screenwriter and director whose work includes films such as Anchorman stepbrothers The Big Short vise, and don't look up. Adam McKay, welcome to movies versus capitalism.
Thanks for having me.
Adam. Congrats. You are our first Academy Award winner on this podcast. So you've beaten David Sirota their only only nominee.
I was laughing just because I love the name of this podcast. Well, thank you. It would make me I want it t shirt. That is my one demand. All right,
you got it?
Yeah, we'll get the merch manufactured this week. Absolutely.
So Adam, before we get into the movie you chose we'd love to ask you about your shift in the last few years from directing broad comedies to social satires. Was there something that prompted this shift for you?
Yeah, well, I mean, since the 90s, I'm trying to think the first time either myself or the people I was hanging out with there, what we were reading, raised a red flag. And for me, I think it was the last two years of Bill Clinton's first term, where I was like, wait a minute, something's going on here. And it kind of the antenna went up. And I was like, This guy is not doing what he said he was gonna do. And he seems awfully concerned with big money. And so the antenna went up. And then through the years, it's, you know, it's gotten more and more alert, more and more worried. And I think like most of us now, you know, you could kind of look back at the last 2025 30 years, and really just see, you know, our country, a lot of countries around the world sees by big capital, which is led to a host of problems like climate, emergency gun epidemic, the opioid epidemic on and on. So we were making those big comedies. When Pharaoh and I were doing them, we always had kind of a point of view underneath it. But quite frankly, the world just changed to the point where if you notice, like, I'm not the only one not making comedies like that, like that, that represents like a different time and world when we were laughing in specifically that way. So you Yeah, you know, the climate emergency the housing collapse, oh 708 living through those slow motion disaster of the Iraq War, all that kind of stuff kind of spit me out on the other end where it's like, hey, maybe as storytellers I need to, you know, change my approach
well, and I think it's really fitting that you chose this film for us to watch because this movie was really like the peak of neoliberalism, you know, like pre right before 911. And it's kind of it's, it's, it's wild to see that there was so much ideology packed into this even at that time, even at the late 90s. So, the movie you chose is office space, written and directed by Mike Judge starring Ron Livingston, David Herman J. Naidu, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole and Steven route. The budget was $10 million dollars and it grossed only 12.2 worldwide at the time was considered a big flop although it quickly achieved called status after its release. This is the story of corporate programmer Peter Gibbons played by Ron Livingston and his friends Sameer and Michael Bolton who all work soul killing jobs at the software company in a tech pack. Peter is miserable in his job until he undergoes hypnotherapy and is left in a state of permanent relaxation when his therapist dies in the middle of their session. What an incredible plot device and Peter's newfound bliss releases him from the burdens of his oppressive job as he refuses to work ignores his boss and charms the waitress at their local chain restaurant played by Jennifer Aniston. Then when they find out that his friends are about to be laid off, they concoct a plan to rip off the company using a software virus
and some historical context for this film. It was released on February 19 1999. Bill Clinton was recently acquitted in his impeachment trial, the animated TV series Family Guy Futurama and Spongebob Squarepants premiered. Other films released this year include the matrix Fight Club and Blair Witch Project. And the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit against Napster alleging copyright infringement. The Columbine High School shooting takes place in Littleton, Colorado, and the world prepares for the y2k bug to potentially bring down the global Internet and telecommunication systems.
Wow, you know what I just realized from you giving that historical context, I think that might be around 9899 was the first time I went from concerned to a little bit freaked.
What was there something in particular that likes sparked that it was
a whole bunch of things. I mean, it you really can't overstate it enough for anyone listening to this, who either was very young or didn't live through the Clinton years, how wildly destructive Those years were, in a way, you could argue that that's the time when the neoliberal ideology, you know, sort of became animated, and walked on two feet, because, you know, Reagan, and the big money behind him in the 80s, certainly weaponized the right wing and gave him a better strategy. But it wasn't until Bill Clinton came along and put a knife in the back of the left wing, that the US started to lose its left wing, which I would argue we don't really have a left wing to speak of. Right now. We have left wingers but there's not really a movement with real political capital, financial capital out there. So you have that going on. But then you just reminded me, you have the y two y 2k. y2k. You had some terrorist attacks were starting, you had Columbine, which is a hallmark moment as far as a country starting to experience societal breakdown, mass mental health issues, because you also have to remember wages have at that point, late 90s already been flat for 20 years. People are already being attacked by predatory lending. They're already now they're starting to be gouged by college tuition. This is where that that moment is really when America is starting to become this kind of Skinner's box of economic shocks, economic and cultural shocks.
Yeah, I think that's such an important point that people need to remember if they don't know it to begin with that, you know, Reagan, the Reagan Revolution, sort of set that stuff in motion, but it was really Bill Clinton that codified a lot of these policies and did everything that you just laid out. So Adam, to start the conversation, first thing we'd like to ask our Guess is why did you choose this movie for us to watch?
So I'm always really interested. I'm, uh, you know, in addition to making movies, I love movies, I watch a lot of movies I always have. And there's certain movies that just really stand out for how ahead of the times they are sort of like how the band The Pixies, it took the world 25 years to catch up to the Pixies. And now they kind of like, okay, that kind of fit the times. Now, when they came out, it was like, from an alien planet. And so the most famous examples of this are electoral network network is maybe the greatest example of that. That movie is fully, what 2030 years ahead of its time. So what network showed when it came out, it was actually a very absurdist funny, sort of exaggerated movie. And then you flash forward 2530 years to Glenn Beck, client, you know, crying and wringing his clothes on Fox News. And it just became a reality. And now if you watch the movie, it plays quite dry. So looking at that list of movies, one that just sticks way out for me is office space. Mike Judge was seeing it, feeling it in a very cogent way where this country was headed. Well before most filmmakers, writers, journalists, you know, cultural sort of spokespeople. So, it's really remarkable because the movie is very funny. It's laugh out loud and funny. But it's darker undertones have done nothing but become more, sort of what's the opposite of highlight? D saturated as the years have gone on, the movie plays completely differently than it did when it came out. Which was, yeah, it was skewering capitalism. We knew that when we saw it. But it was really funny in just a funny way. And just through the years, I watched that movie every two, three years. And it's remarkable how my view and relationship with the movie is vastly different than when I first saw it towards the end of the 90s.
Rick, I'm curious what your experience was, since you had never seen office space?
Yes. I was gonna say I was an office space virgin. And it was it's so interesting hearing you speak about what it would have been like to see it at the time, Adam, and then what you're experiencing it as the years progress for me, I'm watching it, you know, almost, there's a lot of nostalgia involved. Certainly. Aiming it is laugh out loud, funny. But certainly there are themes that still ring true even though we don't necessarily even though I feel like we're living at a time where the breakdown post pandemic of what the office space is, as people move to work from home, like the idea of the office space is psychological. You know, I'm like is the office is slack, the new office space in some ways, just but this this worker alienation still rings true no matter where even if you're working from home even even more. So now that we're like, alienated in our own spaces. So I really Yeah, I really enjoyed it. There's some things that stuck out to me as they definitely were specific to they could probably get away with them more at the time. But I really enjoyed this film. What was your experience like? rewatching Frank,
I mean, it had been a few years since I'd seen it all the way through. And it's definitely been a few years since, like, my political development has gotten to this place. And I was honestly blown away by it. Just Adam everything you're saying it, it manages to be so funny, so accessible, but it portrays such a real struggle. And like, I think I kept thinking there's some and there's obviously some problematic shit in it for sure. But I like like, had the thought I was like, it was like was Judge reading Marx, like the way that he portrays alienation is so visceral in such a sterile way. And I thought this movie is also about like, Freedom inherently and how the people in this movie don't realize they are not free, and are mentally reconciling with that reality, which is like kind of what alienation is and really quickly for anyone. Marx wrote about alienation other you know, theorists at that time wrote about it basically the process of selling your labor as a commodity, the division of labor, which creates menial, repetitive tasks and the environment in which you perform them in, in this case, an office building, a worker can become emotionally and psychologically alienated not only from their labor, but from other people's society and human nature. And that is like this movie. Like every every character is dealing with that in a different way.
Yep. Yeah, it's incredible. And really what you've seen in America now it's worldwide to some degree. I'm 54. So I'm just old enough to remember. You know, it's the typical old man refrain. It wasn't always like this, you know, and, but I actually do remember the seven Yeah, for
real wasn't last for Yeah, you've seen it, for sure. And really,
it really wasn't like this. And really, there's a bunch of things that led us to kind of this dark in state capitalist, sort of John Paul Sark, kind of deranged place that we're in, in America. And one of the big ones was the financialization of basically our entire world because it it made that alienation more profound, we were already struggling psychologically to work for someone who had a goal in mind. But what now with financialization, there isn't even a goal. You're tweaking formulas and numbers to try and drive up something called shareholder value that then can disappear over night. So I mean, it just I can't go on about my judge enough how perceptive he was, you got to remember he did Beavis and Butthead, which, at the time, most people didn't catch that it was satire. He was already on the fact that we were creating a generation of disaffected kids who just wanted to see stuff catch fire, and say stuff while they watch TV. By the way, myself included, I blew up plenty of like airplane models when I was a kid with firecrackers. So yeah, it's just so interesting, that when I watch it now, I actually feel like some sadness. And I actually feel a little bit afraid, because all of the dynamics he was looking at now have killed millions of people. I mean, we're losing 100,000 people a year from the opioid epidemic, because we had to legalize synthetic heroin with a prescription of course, we're losing 30 to 40,000 people a year because, you know, you can literally guns fall out of trees in this country, and untold millions from economic stressors. Now, we're getting into pollution, you know. So there's not to mention that nearly million people that were killed in Iraq over trying to privatize oil fields. So this kind of totally unregulated capitalism has a serious body count. And now of course, it's headed to its largest sort of potential catastrophe, which is the total breakdown of the livable climate. So there's a very shadowy side to this movie now. When I watch it, yet, even still, I laugh. And once again, God bless my judge, because despite everything that just said, I still laugh like a goon when I watched that movie.
Absolutely. No, I was just gonna say and then in addition to which I think it really orchestrates beautifully in this film is the day to day consequences of this kind of alienation that you know, that slow burn of just what the consequences of being so disconnected to what you're doing daily, that slow burn depression that just lack of any connection to your own life, which is so relatable and so devastating and may not have an immediate toll that you can see that we're not taking those numbers on, but you know, it leads to overmedication. It leads to just not having a life that has intention and that we as human beings want to feel a part of this whole and that we're being torn apart. And it is very funny.
What's funny about it is we made it like that's like ultimately, you know, when we did don't look up, it was both the most depressing sad film experience and the funniest film experience I've ever had because the whole thing is just preposterous. That you know, we're now actively cooking are planted in ourselves, just because a CEO won't you know, of shell or Exxon wants to have a you know, a seventh house in Aspet like that is literally what's going on. And everything in between those two facts is just distraction, nonsense and filler. And no one juggles and has fun with the distraction nonsense in filler better than Mike Judge, he just understands it in his bones, well to
both of your points about the like the human body count that the system has created, but also the slow burn of this system. And in this office space, he does both things in this movie, because, like, what's the main driver of what's happening at the office? They're downsizing, and like that is a perfect plot device for this film, because it is a reminder that all workers are expendable in this system. And it drives a lot of the action of this movie. And then, you know, there's that one meeting when they're when the Bob's are talking about who they're going to with their who they're going to lay off. And they're just laughing about it just like he's gone. It looks so long, but by and it's it's a comedy, and it's a joke, but you can imagine like, Oh, I bet that is how some layoff meetings have gone. I mean,
in the face of all of the big tech layoffs just now. Yeah. And the devastating ways in which people have been let go it Yeah, it's super resonant, and the
underlying truth, which I think all of us know, deep inside, that the people doing the layoffs don't give a single shit. And Judge just shows that. I mean, you guys remember, I always laugh about this in a very dark way. But you remember, like, what was it eight years ago or something? NBC tried to do a sitcom that was called like, what was it called, like, outsourced or something? Yeah,
about a call center.
Honestly, sometimes think I had a fever dream where I made this. But that that's how clueless they're kind of corporate structure was that they thought you know what Americans want to laugh about? The millions of jobs they've lost to foreign factories where they can pay 50 cents an hour. And they actually broadcast that show. I wonder if we can get copies of it. Because it's remarkable, and, and really just once again, judge just has an incredible sense for where that kind of stuff is sitting around. And the layoffs, he just nails it. I also just love the company, even the name of the company, isn't it? In attack in a tech? Yeah. Which sounds like someone doing something sexual to themselves. Like there's something there's something almost gross about that name. And it just right away makes me think of unpleasant images. And of course, we never know what they do. And I'm not even sure they know what they do in the fictional world. Oh, and the depressing chain restaurants tchotchkes
has a flair. Can we talk about pieces of flair, I think that was my favorite part of the movie. Jennifer Aniston works at a tchotchkes tchotchkes. And she is required, well, not required. But you know, it's she
has a minimum amount,
she has a minimum amount of flair to wear. So it's like all these pins, or whatnot. And it's just such a, it's such a great metaphor for the unspool not metaphor, but it is just the unspoken expectations at jobs. And, you know, it makes me think of the teacher though, on a not as funny level, who has to buy their own school supplies, it's not required. But you know, the consequence of not buying your school supplies means that your class probably won't get a chance to learn. And, you know, actors who now have to set up a whole recording studio in your living room to compete at industry level. So you have to You're not required, but if you want to be in the game,
and if you don't like it, or feel great about it, and the boss can sense that, that works against you. So not only are you totally at the whims of this, you know, transnational corporations, and algorithms. But if if your boss can sense that you're not cool with it, that is held against you remember the bar? Yeah, the boss keeps saying, there's a minimum number and Jennifer Aniston is like, Yeah, but I'm wearing that number. And he's like, Yeah, but we'd like you to go above the minimum. And then she says, Well, is there a new requirement? No, we want you to do more than is required. And then she's like, so is that required? And he's like, Yeah, you're just not getting it. And it's like, Thank you, sir. Man. I have another, which is the the slogan of all of capitalism is Thank you, sir, may I have another, and it's one of the best scenes you'll ever see about that. The other image, I always talk to my oldest daughter loves office space, she's seen it like 10 times. And we always talk about the moment where the characters are walking outside of the office park. And they're walking across those bizarre landscapes that they do in office parks and around buildings. So they they're walking on green grass, and then they go way down, this sudden drop that bottoms into like kind of a drainage pipe, and then come to a sharply back up the other side. And you just see how the landscape has no connection to life or human beings whatsoever.
Yeah, it's that thing that we do, where we rip all of the nature out, and we put in a bunch of concrete, and then someone's like, you know, it'd be nice here, a little bit of nature, let's, let's inject some of that back back into here.
Or even, you know, when they moved all the workspaces on line in those, you know, when they were trying different kinds of versions of online meeting, and they would sort of create these digital worlds that were like digital parks probably looking exactly like an Initech Park. But now you can commune they're online, because you probably miss it so much and psychologically need to be there to be productive in your workforce.
Oh, my God. I mean, to me, the moment so far, there's a lot of moments that we've lived through in the last whatever, 1020 30 years that typify sort of this careening. Stagecoach full of Hyena is where the stagecoach driver is slumped over debt going down the side of a hill, this trajectory that America has been on, but one of the more recent ones that I can't stop thinking about is and it was super viral, but where the guy is in a Zoom meeting, and someone left these kids left the function on so he's had is a cat, oh, my god, mechanical guy being forced to say, but I'm not a cat. And I remember just turning to my wife, and saying, that's like the moment at the end of an athlete's career where you just hear the knee, snap. And it was like something profound, just broke. And then at the same time, I was laughing, and crying. And it really was a Mike Judge moment. That guy's saying, I'm not a cat with a giant cat.
Yeah, that was maybe like top five internet moments of all time that that guy, I am not a cat. You know, one thing that really stuck out to me on this watch is the very we were already talking about, you know, the office space now that people are working from home. But the morning commute, which I think is the perfect entry point into this movie is Peter in the car, just absolutely miserable in this commute. And just, it perfectly conveys that monotony the frustration like the rat race of this entire system. And also like the reminder of your individual in significance. also think it's important, like we think of commuting and cars as like a natural evolution of industrial society. And most people not realizing the influence that private interests, like the auto and oil industries have had to make sure that we are always in cars that we don't have reliable public transportation in most cities.
Yeah. I also love how they depict white guys listening to hip hop. Because I think now you would just say, well, it's cultural appropriation, and it would just sort of be dismissed. But, but what Mike Judge does, is he shows how desperate it is like, these guys are so confined. These guys have so little voice, and then the band they listened to in the in the movie is the ghetto boys. Were from Houston, who were fantastic group, but you can feel it's the only time in their life. They get to even be near anything authentic, angry. That's telling the truth that relates to how they feel. And I just thought it was really interesting. Like, you know, we've certainly rightfully mocked, you know, white people being in the hip hop, but if anything, it just shows how desperate American culture is. That really, we don't have much left except there's still really good hip hop, you know,
also like that just sort of like the fearful kind of cowardly move of him acknowledging his own discomfort in that but not actually articulating it. I think is was important, especially for setting up that character. I mean, this was like a Real, I wrote down this is a real one dimensional character study, you know, you don't get a ton about each person but each each character kind of plays their archetypal role. You know, you got like Peters like the hapless Everyman. Michael Bolton is like the perennial beta, I guess, some year I wish had been written a little bit more had been fleshed out a little bit, because it was kind of came across as just sort of like the angry immigrant is kind of like what this this read on this watch, obviously, Jennifer Aniston's character, kind of just the Peter analog, but you don't really get too much into her story other than when she gets to quit. But yeah, and then also Smith kowski, the guy who is the most mentally affected by the system, who ends up trying to kill himself after he loses his job. That really jumped out to me too. I was like, Oh, that's right. This is very dark, who is
dark. And then he's in a halo, his entire pelvis and spine having been shattered, but he gets a settlement from the lawsuit. And he looks at the other characters and says, See, all your dreams can come true. I mean, you would be hard pressed to find a more savage, full frontal assault against capitalism than that moment. It's really incredible. But um, yeah, and the character, this Steven root character just being kind of utterly forgotten, buried in the basement, like almost becoming a different kind of animal, like some sort of like, you know, cave fish, who barely make sense when he talks. Yeah, it's a very angry movie. And I think the reason, that sort of story and its point of view works in a, quote, comedy, is because if you start adding fully fleshed out layers to characters in a story like that, about capitalism, it just in like, almost like a chemical reaction, it just immediately becomes Death of a Salesman. Right, so grim, that if those characters were a little more human, it gets really dark, which you can actually do that with a lot of quote comedies, that if you play them as fully fleshed out in real there's much more frightening kind of lower floors to the building that is that movie than that, it seems like when we're laughing
Absolutely. The another thing that jumped out to me was this where I felt nostalgic and also just felt the age of this movie, was they play the million dollar question game, you know, what would you do if you had a million dollars? And this was so ingrained in me I just remember this was like the favorite game as a kid in like y2k Like oh my god, if I had a million dollars I would get so many swimming pools and fill them with all kinds of food I feel like that was my go to was always filling swimming, swimming pools with food. And I teach like probably something sugary puddings Sour Patch,
you know, wait a minute. And you fill a swimming pool with put it you just, that's a massive problem.
You're giving yourself multiple pools multiple there's just a putting pool, there's probably like a, you know, a chicken fingers pool somewhere. But I teach better. Thank you. Thank you. I teach an AI through this. You know, you're always like checking question. I teach theater to middle schoolers and throw this question. Just throw this question out. It was one of my favorite questions and easy one just comes to me and like, Okay, guys, you know, your name, your pronouns? What would you do with a million dollars? These kids? Okay, immediately. Um, well, a million dollars is not a lot of money. I'm like, been checked. That's true. So sorry. And if I could do something with it, I would take I would divide it in three. I'm not even kidding. I was like, Whoa, I would give it a third to my parents to help pay for college. I would take a third and save it and then I would take another third and if there was like a little something left, I would maybe put it towards a concert. I said, Okay, well, I was gonna fill a swimming pool with pudding. But um, I mean, part of me was proud of them. It's not no not long and I was like, Wow, I'm glad you have this financial literacy. Good. But also deeply destroyed me.
Friend of mine. So my daughter's doing the my youngest daughter Pearl is doing the applied at college thing and missions and all that kind of jazz. Okay. And she had a friend whose dream school was this big East Coast school. And it's really hard to get into any got in. And I was like, hey, congratulations. And Pearl and her friend both just didn't react. And I was like, what's wrong? And the friend just goes, well, now we got to figure out how to pay for it. And by the way, we're in Los Angeles, you know, we live in a pretty nice neighborhood by most standards. It doesn't come from a family that's broke, they have some money. And even still, he started telling me how much it was every year. And it's like, not that far away from a half a million dollars. And it was just so sad, though. Because that's traditionally when I grew up, that would be the moment you would just flat out, celebrate, and like how cool that you worked so hard. And it was like, it's going to be a five step process till he can feel good.
I mean, Adam, you're talking to two people who went to theater school?
Where did you guys go to school?
I went to Carnegie Mellon. So one of the expensive ones,
of course, a very good school, very, very good school.
That's what they told us.
You know, and it was, but it was quite expensive.
I couldn't believe it. When I start and all of this, by the way, this conversation definitely relates to office space. I couldn't believe it. When about four or five years ago, I heard some people telling people who wanted to study film, don't go to school. And I was like, a being once again, an older guy. I was like, What do you mean? Like, it's good to go to school, because you can watch all kinds of movies, you meet people, it's a good place to make mistakes. And the person looked at me like I was an idiot, and was just like, Yeah, but it costs a quarter of a million dollars, and you hold that debt your whole life. And I was like, depending on who you are, maybe don't go to school. Like I mean, that's something that's just changed radically, that depending on your major, it might actually not be a good idea to go to college, which is it feels weird to even say that out loud. But it sometimes is true.
Especially in the arts, especially in the arts. I tell that to anyone. I worked at a restaurant a few years back, one of my managers, his kid was thinking of becoming an actor. Yeah. And he was like, So what do we do? I was like, yeah, don't, don't, don't go to college don't like if he's, if he's serious about it, move to New York or LA, get into an acting studio costs like, a couple $1,000. And just start
and that higher education is great. But in a lot of ways, it felt like my experience when I think about it, and when I when I talk to young people, sometimes it feels like the Initech, right? Like, you have to go do this thing for a reason that you're not really sure. But like society's telling you you're not going to be able to succeed without this, like going to college, not Well, is it something you want to do that's going to guide sort or you're going to discover what you love? There's many great reasons, but often I feel like our generation, it
was like, I don't know why you're so negative about the managerial society that we've created. And that free trade. I mean, look at this. We're one big management class, of course, everyone should go to college. Yeah,
yeah. And we and we were the generation that had millennials that had no conception that this was going to be an issue for us down the line. It was still, you know, sunshine and rainbows. I have a buddy who says I'll never forget it. He was like, we were millennials, we were raised to live in a world that no longer exists. And that's like, the one I wouldn't say it's an advantage for Gen Z, because they're younger, they're going to be inheriting even more of a broken world, but they have been raised that like the post 911 generation, they're like, We understand this is this is shit, this is all dogshit and it's always been that way for us. So they kind of have a more grounded realistic perspective in life. Whereas the millennials, we were, we were, you know, we were like, we're gonna have it just as good as the Gen Xers.
There's, there's a climate futurist writer named Alex Stefan, who wrote a piece like a year or two ago about sunk cost expertise. And I just, I must have sent this piece to everyone because it perfectly explains American culture education, like, you know, all of the kind of elite class of America. And his point was that look, we scientifically do not live in a world that human beings have ever lived in now the class MIT has never been like this. You look at the economic numbers. I mean, this is a world that shatters all the old narratives. But unfortunately, you have all these people that are in high paying jobs that have tenure, that, you know, our chief editor that, you know, on and on and on, and all those sort of non science elite positions. And they right now are holding a big old bag of sunk costs expertise, and they will not let it go. Because the adjustment that we require, you know, it was like the oh seven housing collapse that instantly all those economic models being taught in colleges were useless. Well, guess what happened? They slowly went back to those economic models. There was no adjustment but but if you get a chance that Alex Stephen Pease about sunk cost expertise, so good,
I'll definitely check it out. Well, Adam, this is the point in the episode where we like to hand out awards for this movie. So our first award is called a point with a view this goes to the character with the best politics in the movie.
That's good. All right, I gotta see if I can remember his name. The moral center. The office space, for me, is our main characters rotten, Livingstone's? I'm remembering the actor, not the character's name. It Ron Livingston's neighbor, who is the gut construction guy with the giant mullet. The foo Manchu mustache, who comes into Livingston's apartment cracks a beer, and they kind of talk real. He is the moral center of the movie. He is my hero, by the way, he lives near us. And I've actually met the actor a couple of times. But to me manner, that is the moral center. That's the guy. I want to be in that movie. Oh, by the way, wait, wait, wait, wait, I'm sorry. I think he says really offensive stuff. So I'm not siding with that. I just mean, his position in the world. And the way he views the world, minus the comments that are from 19, late 90s That now would get you expelled from reality. I
think he's the one who says when Peter talks about with his million dollars, he just want to, you know, go fishing in the system, you know, you don't need a million dollars for that. He's like, my, he's like, my cousin does that. He doesn't actually need any money do that.
And that's kind of that one sentence is the whole movie. Like, that's exactly. And then what Livingstone ends up doing. In the end, I'm like, you know, what, not a bad choice, like pretty good. Works in on his day's work. That's what that's his big change
gets to be outside, you know, just using his hands. I'm gonna give this award to Samir because like some of your he's feeling all the same stuff as the other guys, but there's not that like entitlement that comes along with, you know, I guess being like a white guy in the 90s. And then when they pitch the, when they pitch the scam to him, he's like, no, no, this isn't good. This isn't good. And then when they get kind of like when it blows out of proportion, he's like, he's like, You guys took advantage of me in this moment. And, like, I knew that this was a bad idea. So yeah, I think for me, it's Amir.
Yeah. I was with Samira as well. Similar was my choice.
Samir is very cool, by the way, and he can that actor can really dance. Like it's shocking when he busts out those serious moves. Oh, yeah. See any hint of it coming? Anyway, I'm sorry. Next to work.
Our next award goes to the character with the worst politics in the movie. This is the despicable you award.
Oh, that's good. There's so many. Let's see. Let's see. Yeah, it's got to be. Maybe it's easier than I think it's probably Gary Cole's character, right? What's his name? Yeah. Bill. Lumbergh. Yeah, it's Lumbergh. Yeah, cuz he's, and part of its personal job, because that's usually the guy we interact with on the daily basis. The guy who's just has the middle management job, or the slightly upper management job, who's just thinks he's king of the world. spends his whole day kicking down on people beneath him, his mind completely warped to the goals of the company. There's no imagination. There's no empathy. Yeah, he's the worst. He's the worst nightmare of capitalism. So I would go with Lumbergh.
He's a great depiction of the managerial class and for every then you just described and there's Gary Cole plays him so well there's like just the tiniest bit of enjoyment behind his eyes as he's like wielding this power. It's not like super over because he's not really and it's a great choice because like, easily you can just make that guy just like a flat out asshole but like his boring enjoyment of his power like,
okay, that likes he's like a dripping coffee pot like he I feel like he plays the character just like a dripping coffee pot which is brilliant. Perfect. Perfect. I think I'm gonna put the I agree with you. I'll just throw out the Bob's the Bob's are pretty despicable.
Oh, yeah, the Bob's are strong,
but the Bob's like, they're aware that what they're doing is, you know, which makes it worse. I guess it makes it worse. But I guess like for Lumberg. He thinks that he's maybe like a good guy. He definitely does. He's like, I'm like a cool chill boss. And I like I'm actually really awesome.
Do you guys remember do we meet the consultant that they hired to lay people off? I don't think we do. Right. It's off camera.
I thought the Bob's are the consultants. Are they I
got confused about that. Because that's McKinley and the other Oh, you're right. They are they're the consultants. Oh, then they automatically are the worst. Because there's no darker forests on planet earth than coal corporate consulting firms like McKinsey and Bain.
Yeah. I yeah, I think you're right. I think materially they're probably the worst. And then our last award is a star is scorned. This goes to the supporting character that this movie should actually be about.
I'm gonna go, I don't Jennifer Aniston's character feels like a whole other movie. Yeah, putting next to office space. And in a weird way. What was that movie she did was called the good girl. Is that what it's called? Yeah, yeah. It's a it's a really good movie.
It's written by Mike White.
I love that movie. Love Mike White, of course. And it almost feels like there's a whole other movie going on with Aniston's character. And she's brushing against Ron Livingston like their inner sexing. So I would say her character.
Yeah, I'm with you. I thought she was great in this movie, too. Because I do think even with all whatever could be one dimensional. I thought she was brilliant in this movie. I would say her and possibly, I'd watch a movie about her boss at tchotchkes, there was just something like, what is that guy do at night? You know what I mean? Like, let's follow him. Let's give him a camera. I want to know his entire day.
I am. So I would watch every second of that movie. And I would watch the series that was the spin off. We tried to create a show a few years back with this friend of mine, Jon Glaser. That was about a boxing referee. It was about like his little apartment, the estranged daughter, like just like, who are those boxing referees? What do they do when they're down? It was called The Third Man in the ring was going to be the show. But the tchotchkes manager I would I would dive headfirst into that as a binge.
Yeah, the tchotchkes movie, honestly, it'd be great. He could do a sequel and it could be set, you know, in like, whatever. 20 years later, and Jennifer Aniston is still working at tchotchkes and like, that's, that's the story, you know that or I'd watch either iteration. So Adam,
before we wrap up, we like to discuss how we as artists, and people strive to practice our anti capitalist beliefs in our own lives, even with all its complexities and contradictions. So is there one thing that you do in your own life or a practice that you engage in that you would like to share?
Well, you know, obviously, with the projects our company does, and that I do, I always try and infuse, you know, sort of belief that we don't need to live this way, we could share a little bit more, and it would actually make us all better off. So that's definitely something that shows up in what I do. But I think a more interesting answer is what something that I materially do every single day. So the most recent thing I started doing, and part of this was because of COVID. I sort of went through a bunch of shelves in our house, and just found stuff like collectibles, old comics, sports cards, autographs, props for movies. And I was like, You know what, I'm gonna sell all of this and give it to fund action on climate. So it's actually a thing anyone can do to varying scales, which is just to sell stuff and give it to something good. You If you can't know, I fully realize I'm a Hollywood director. And there's plenty of people out there hearing this going, I wish I had stuff to sell. But if you do, it's a good thing to do. So I've been doing that, and it feels great. First off, I'm getting clutter out of my life, I don't, there is like a little bit of a gross feeling, to having stuff that has values sitting on shelves. So and then it's awesome. I give the money to climate emergency fund, which directly uses the money to fund climate, civil disobedience. So then you can look, you know, you can talk to these activists, you can look on the news, and you can see the disruptions they're doing. So yeah, that's been a recent one. That's awesome.
Yeah, that's a really good one. I, similarly, I try to donate to organizations as much as I can. And I have some people in my life who, you know, are on the higher end of the socio economic ladder, and, you know, they've come to me and been like, what can I do, like, I don't have time to go out and like, organize and do stuff. And I'm like, honestly, I'll give you five organizations. And like, the, the monetary contribution really helps. Because, you know, like, the organizing is important, but also like, we still live in a money run society. So like the donations, that is that does make a material difference.
It's actually you know, I'm on the board, full disclosure, I'm on the board of climate emergency fun. And we do work directly with the activists, and are very involved in what's going on on the grassroots level. But oh, yeah, the money is big. And maybe I'm gonna start a nonprofit called sell your shit. Because there's so much shit just sitting around that has value for certain kinds of people. And, yeah, you can really I auctioned off a bunch of it. And we raised a decent chunk of change. I think we raised 125 grand for the first auction. And then I said, You know what, I'm gonna do two more. So we're continuing, and I'm getting friends of mine to just sell their shit. It's especially ludicrous in the face of the climate emergency. And the idea that, you know, we now know this southwest of America has, at the most two years water left up probably a year to a year and a half. And it's like, do we really think like a Willie McCovey rookie card is gonna hold its value when there's a giant water migrant refugee crisis going on? And so it actually makes sense on that level as well. But yeah, my big thing is, sell your shit.
That's great. Sell your ship. And it's great because it also solves the issue of the anxiety that capitalism causes where you feel like you need more shit, no matter how much you have. I like that. It's the act of selling your shit, having a go through your stuff, having to have a relationship to whatever it represented for you, but letting it go. I think that action of letting go we all have to start getting a little bit used to spiritually and practically.
Amen. I mean, I sold X Men, giant size number one, yes, I'm an old comic geek from when I was a kid. And that was always my dream comic book. So like, 20 years ago, I bought a copy of it. It was like 600 bucks or so I mean, it wasn't crazy. And I put it on a shelf. And then he took it out. And it turned out the book was worth like, eight grand now. And so let it go sell your shed, and I got to enjoy it. I got to sell it. And then some climate activists, hopefully throw red paint on an oil CEO and asked him think of a better way to spend my money.
You heard that here folks sell your most prized possession or you're not as good as Adam McKay.
Yes, this is an ego trip. I am a perfect moral person. Always follow my example.
Well, Adam, this was really awesome. Thank you so so much for for joining us for this conversation. Loved it.
I really enjoyed it. You guys. What a pleasure. Thank you for having me. And I mean it. You have to make T shirts. That would be a great t shirt.
We're on it and sell your shit T shirts as well sell some shit buy some shit.
All right, guys, be well, bye.
Thank you so much.
Thank you all so much for listening. Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Tiktok and if you've been enjoying the show, please consider becoming a supporter again. You can find all of that info at NVC. pod.com.
for next week's movie we'll be watching Terry Gilliam's done arc satirical masterpiece Brazil
yeah if you've never seen this movie please check it out this is an all timer