Monday, 5 September 2016

The Bothersome Man.

One of my favourite films of recent years is Jens Lien's The Bothersome Man. It's a Norwegian film I heartily recommend.

It's about a young man who arrives in a small grey town where people have grey thoughts, work in grey jobs and live in grey buildings. 
Everybody in the town is smiley, dull and boring. 

The main character works as an accountant in an office where everyone is overly polite to each other. 
No one speaks the truth. 
No one has an opinion. 
No one has taste. 

In this post-modern politically correct society, the notion of speaking out, or having a different opinion would be offensive and rude. 

So, everyone in the town is conditioned to agree with each other. 
Agreeing is placid. 
Agreeing is, 'we are all on board.' 
Agreeing is the consensus that makes us feel comfortable. 
Agreeing will keep us in our jobs.
Agreeing is easy.

There is a scene in the film where the staff are having lunch in the office canteen.

One of the female workers is choosing a sofa for her home.
She shows her work colleagues the catalogue of sofas. 
All the sofas look the same. 
She agonises over making a decision and getting it wrong.
She makes a safe choice.
Her work colleagues approve of her choice. 
She is happy. They are happy.
The Bothersome Man can't believe they all agree with this safe decision. 
He wants to say, 'this sofa is shit. It's just like all the other sofas. Choose something different. Be an individual'.
But he doesn't say anything. 

Anger, jealousy, passion, love, humour are all casualties of this benign, polite society. 

The Bothersome Man wants to feel and taste real emotions. 
He wants to laugh, hate, shout, get pissed, rage, fight and love. 
He wants to be an individual. He doesn't want to be conditioned to fit in.

Lien's film is set in an accountancy firm. 
It could easily have been set in a modern day advertising agency

Every creative industry needs more Bothersome Men and Women.

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