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The shifting cinematic portrayal of managers in the United States post-2008

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I examine cinematic depictions of American corporate managers since 2008, extending previous discussions. Experts agree that earlier filmic representations often showed managers as at best indifferent to subordinates, at worst cynical and/or exploitative of them. The standard archetype was seen by several commentators as that of the ‘Macho Manager’. Drawing on analyses of selected films and auteurs’ public statements, I argue that since the financial crisis managers have increasingly been portrayed as vulnerable individuals themselves subject to unemployment, with problems in common with other employees, sympathetic towards them and on occasion willing to mobilize them for collective ends. I conceptualize the new depiction in the idea of the Post-Company Managerial Hero. The shift has been a conscious one on the part of auteurs. Given the cultural importance of cinema as a popular medium, demonstrating that such a change has taken place in the cinematic depictions of managers may help us better understand popular perceptions of management more broadly in the period following the financial crisis.
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Keywords: American managers; cinematic depictions; cultural archetypes; financial crisis; masculinity; workplace cooperation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Middlesex University

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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