Corey Robin notes a disturbing trend in the workplace: the notion that workers should be grateful for the most basic of freedoms, such as lunch breaks:
In one television advertisement, a woman gets up from her desk and announces, “I’m going to lunch.” Her co-workers try to dissuade her, telling her that the days of taking lunch are long gone.
In a scene reminiscent of “Jerry Maguire,” an inspired colleague stands up and says, “I’m going with her.” The music swells, he tears off the lanyard around his neck and adds, “I don’t want to be chicken, I want to eat it.”
Geoff McCartney, vice president and creative director at DDB Chicago, the agency that worked on the campaign, said the ads were based on a simple precept: “that busy people should take some time for a decent lunch.”
“Work-life balance is really at a tipping point,” he said. “People don’t have a break for lunch, and they feel like they can’t take one for whatever reason.”
Back in the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse coined a phrase in One-Dimensional Man for capitalism’s ability to use (and tame) an emancipated sexuality for the sake of advancing capitalism itself: repressive desublimation. The basic argument was that the fantasy and idea of liberation could be mobilized to reproduce the very system that produced a need for liberation.
But what are we to make of a society in which liberation is defined as scarfing down a ham sandwich?
Sometimes I think that modern corporatist propaganda has become so potent that it will turn us into a population of willing serfs.