What the Barbie Movie Tells Us About Workplace Culture

The idea that life imitates art might need to be reconsidered in light of recent observations. It seems that popular culture is reflecting back on what life is like, particularly when it comes to work. Movies such as "Barbie" and "Everything Everywhere All at Once" showcase the portrayal of corporate life as colorless and oppressive, with office villains and bleak office environments. These films shed light on the cold, hard realities of work, taxes, and corporations. Similarly, the bestselling novel "Yellowface" by Rebecca F. Kuang critiques the publishing industry and explores how the already successful often have an unfair advantage over lesser-known individuals.

Moreover, literature like Barbara Kingsolver's "Demon Copperhead" delves into the monotonous and low-paid work of shelf stacking in supermarkets, depicting the struggle faced by characters in a coal mining community affected by economic hardships and the opioid crisis. Even in musical performances, such as Billy Joel's song "Allentown," there is a recurring theme about the decline of the manufacturing sector and the disappointment associated with broken promises in working life.

These examples demonstrate that art, in various forms, mirrors the realities of work. Whether it is through fiction, non-fiction books discussing work culture and history, or futuristic novels like "The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century," the themes of hard times, hustle culture, and the evolving nature of work persist. Works like Derek Thompson's "On Work: Money, Meaning, Identity" and "The Workplace You Need Now: Shaping Spaces for the Future of Work" by Sanjay Rishi, Benjamin Breslau, and Peter Miscovich emphasize the need to acknowledge the spectrum of working arrangements and the challenge of creating cohesive and integrated workplace ecosystems.

As we move forward, the line between humans and humanoids might blur, reflecting some of the outer realms of science fiction. Perhaps, like Oscar Wilde suggested, life will eventually imitate art, and we will find entertainment and insights in both.  

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