Job Competition & Slavery Lulz

by Andrew Loewen on October 17, 20122 comments

In an era of low economic growth and high unemployment, looking for work becomes even more demeaning. Unemployment, like mental illness, carries stigma and shame for many, while the social logic of a “job market” makes the individual job seeker feel responsible for his condition – less worthy and desirable a person than successful applicants. The politically incorrect humor of this Key and Peele sketch works by anachronistically inserting this modern psychology – self-worth through recognition by a boss – into the slave auction. (At this point, in polite company, someone would tell me I’m “reading too much into it.” But that is why I avoid polite company.)

2 comments

Mabel Bee on October 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm. #

The Key and Peele video is just the thing for polite society. I am not quite sure whether such a society ever existed. At least if it did, I imagine that it would be with contradictory elite ways of obfuscating the unpleasantries to which its members are responsible for on the underside of the dinner table and upon plantation fields.

Now that landed gentry and the early colonialists are somewhat phenomenon of the past, I imagine that even those who are well off today go through the unpleasant process of a type of self-prostitution that is both less sexual and less demeaning. Looking for a job is like being put to market. We become like little pigs off to slaughter on the meat market at some point or another.

At least the video that you have selected is able to shed humour onto the past. I certainly appreciate the tenacity of its peanut gallery. Your post furthermore serves to highlight the difficult socio-psychological effects of unemployment through analogy to slavery.

What it misses is that even the unemployed-to-under-empolyed may well be highly desired persons. The problem perhaps is that the corporate structures and general social views on self-worth defined narrowly by labour for the benefit of market growth are often too inhumane to make this desirability apparent.