December 12, 2013
Two problems have emerged in the years since the 1970’s through the oil embargo driven depression of the early 1980’s in North America: diminishing opportunities for employment and increasing divisions among national populations where people have come to behave as though “people hate people“. Both of these matters are satirized in the June, 2013 movie The Internship so conspicuously that the movie’s content resists submission to the formal disciplining of a controlling narrative. It exaggerates the clash between know-nothing dinosaur-like older salesmen and the ever on the hair pin of hostility, hip and in tune with technology, intelligent young students, to convey the message that both older workers and youth are losing work to machines, and that people are forfeiting the capacity to respectfully communicate with people.
The movie develops from two middle aged salesmen Nick and Bill being given notice when their boss decides to close his watch distributing company and retire because no one needs watches any more now that everyone has a cell phone to keep time. According to the boss technological advance has made his top congenial watch salesmen dinosaurs as obsolete as the time keeping technology they peddle, for today people prefer interacting with techno devices rather than with human beings:” people hate people”. Desperate for employment the two older salesmen pass an interview for a chance to be an intern at Google. But after succeeding in the interview qualified by phoney university affiliations they must compete for the internship among a vast crowd of bright university students a generation younger than themselves, they learn that only 5% of the competing crowd will be successful. When they are asked to get into groups to compete they are forced into a team of individuals who like themselves have been overlooked by other groups. They of course had not been picked because they looked older than the typical internship applicant; so are forced to join with 4 others whose personal and perhaps racial characteristics have kept them from being selected. We quickly learn that a male Yoyo Santos Asian in appearance seems socially apprehensive because his home schooling has kept him from associating with “people” outside his home and for whom a high five is an expression of hostility. An apparently socially isolated south Asian American female Neha Patel sure of her intelligence but not of her social status mechanically introduces herself in terms implying that she is “hot“. Lyle a four year Google employee and fledgling group manager attempts to overcome the management status barrier between himself and his unemployed partners by ingratiating himself to the older internship candidates and the other socially uncertain group members by babbling in nerdishly hip jargon that he is an old soul of 23. His nervous resume-like speech replete with sexual overtures to Neha angers group member Stuart, who isolated in his intellectual attachment to a hand-held Online device, wants to punch Lyle for referring to himself in the third person, a puzzlingly obscure reason for hostility, demonstrating perhaps that “people [really do] hate people“. Very quickly we learn that what has brought these social misfits together is the desperate chance for employment. So the intelligent Neha. Patel and the dutifully home-schooled Yoyo Santos bluntly say that they’ve learned that today education and intelligence do not guarantee employment.
Of course the internship opportunity, the play area and almost infinite supply of free snacks at Google are fraught, with irony because Google itself is an exaggerated emblem of both the technological advances that have produced the salesmen’s “older” dinosaur like image in a society where “people hate people“ and the ideal work environment. The internship itself is not a job but simply the opportunity for employment that may not materialize. And Mr. Chetty, the man directing, the internship applicants is himself an “older “ worker and like the two salesmen has had to struggle to be among the 5% of successful job seekers.