Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dilbert at Work

Over the years, I have learned to be wary of anyone who has Dilbert accessories in their workspace be it a coffee mug, a calendar or a strip stuck at a prominent location in their cube or office. It makes we wonder about what it is they are trying to say (and to whom) without really saying it and why it is so important. My concerns are slightly alleviated by static material such a mugs, posters or scotch-taped strips from circa 1993.

It signals (to me) in the best case, that they've said their piece and have worked it out of their system since. Day to day, they go about their life at work just like the non-Dilbert people - they are not getting all steamed up in a pressure-cooker whose safety valve happens to be Dilbert. In the worst case, they have one very important thing to say and they want to make sure they are heard. Dilbert is the voice of their dissent.

However, when the material is dynamic and frequently refreshed, it gives me more food for thought and I might add, concern. It would a whole lot more fun and cathartic to take their show on the road as this blogger does with great aplomb. What's more the blogger could get a book deal out it - I would hate for Bob to end up in a syndicated comic strip and become Dilbert's competition.

In an article titled
Dilbert is Bosses' Stooge, the writer quotes author Norman Solomon who gets it right :

Thus, the Dilbert character is an agent of a "corporate America (that) is not selling us the rope to hang it with, (but) the illusions to exculpate it with," Solomon contends. "Labor unions haven't adopted Dilbert characters as insignia. But corporations in droves have rushed to link themselves with Dilbert, Why?

"Dilbert mirrors the mass media's crocodile tears for working people -- and echoes the ambient noises from Wall Street."

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