Everybody gets fired

We've all been there, some of us many times.We’ve all been there, some of us many times.

My wife and I have close to 500 selections on our Netflix list, which we recently discovered is the limit. It’s not that we’re movie buffs so much as we like to keep track of things. So when one of us discovers something, it goes on the list. What belongs to whom is pretty obvious. All the [yawn] old, foreign and obscure movies are hers. All the cartoons, documentaries and interesting movies are mine. The lucky few get bumped to pole position when something else is returned. The rest languish on the list… sometimes for years. More than a few are charter members.

Unemployment has helped me burn through some of what I’ve added over the years – stuff that my wife couldn’t care less about. I watched Ken Burns‘s Civil War documentary (12 hours on 5 discs) during one layoff and his documentary on the West (also 12 hours on 5 discs) during another. Many seasons of South Park and Aqua Teen Hunger Force have passed through the DVD player. I may take a swing at Baseball in honor of the pending season (go Mets!); watching it seems a lot healthier than taking up with Madonna or sticking a needle full of steroids in my ass.

Today I saw an amusing and highly relevant documentary called Fired! A layoff is just a firing without cause; the end result is pretty much the same. Here’s the blurb…

Once unceremoniously axed by Oscar-winning director Woody Allen, actress Annabelle Gurwitch examines the good, the bad and the ugly sides of getting canned in this cathartic documentary. While celebrity interviews include Tim AllenAnne MearaIlleana DouglasFred Willard and Sarah Silverman, Gurwitch’s introspective journey also turns the spotlight on General Motors workers and other everyday people who’ve landed in the unemployment line.

The blurb (along with my illustrious employment history) made me want to watch the movie, as any decent blurb should. It also overreaches a tad; marketing really is just an exaggeration that no one can do anything about. The movie is funny and touching in places, but it’s not Roger and Me, a biting commentary on unemployment and its individual and societal ramifications or a cathartic sob-fest. It’s a pretty light affair, as much of the pain that comes with losing a job is laced with or buried under humor.

That leads to a key point of the movie… laughing can ease the pain and provide a little perspective. There’s humor in any job loss if you look hard enough. (Trust me, I do this for a living.) And as time passes, this traumatizing experience often dissolves into a joke or story. The importance fades as life moves along. Each of my four layoffs now amounts to a bunch of anecdotes I tell at parties, after I raid the dessert table but before I put on the lampshade.

The main point is that anybody who loses a job isn’t alone in the experience. Many, many people have been through it and go on to do other things. And this comes across by simple repetition, as famous and regular people tell their stories. The movie stumbles in places, but it’s worth watching for the laughs and the welcome reminder that things can get better. Job loss is a reality of the current job market and will remain so going forward. Dealing with it with humor or in other ways allows people to move past it.

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2 Comments

  1. unemployed wrote:

    Why netflix over blockbuster? I am doing blockbuster because I can swap out dvd’s while I wait on my new ones to arrive…

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink
  2. Norm wrote:

    I had so many nightmare experiences at their stores that I wanted nothing to do with them. Plus my wife has had her Netflix account since before Blockbuster offered the service. We saw no reason to switch.

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

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    […] as having the best roasted pig in the world . That’s truly a compliment that would make Everybody gets fired – joblessandless.com 02/17/2009 My wife and I have close to 500 selections on our Netflix list, […]