Doc of the Day: Office Tigers Review - Dan Schindel

Doc of the Day: Office Tigers

Posted in Days of Docs, Reviews by - July 08, 2012

Find out how those Indian people, whom you resent for taking our jobs, live and work.

Dir. Liz Mermin, 2006, 9o min

I really hated this movie.

I know I’m not supposed to hate movies, but I kind of do hate this one. I’m sure I’ll cool down on it later and be much more reasonable. For now? Intense, burning loathing.

There’s something to be said for objectivity. I won’t say much of it, but there is something. But none of those things, at least none of the good ones, can be attributed to this film. Office Tigers takes the kind of objective tack that renders it utterly toothless and useless. It’s the feature-length equivalent of “x says this, but y says this” journalism, the kind that does not inform or help the public in any way whatsoever. There’s not judging your subject, and then there’s being just plain gutless. This documentary feels like little more than an advertisement for the company that it follows.

That company is OfficeTiger, a BPO (business processing outsourcing) company that trains Indian employees in support services for American corporations. It was founded by Randy Altshuler and Joe Sigelman, who were one of the few Americans to successfully run their own job exporting company. As you might imagine, it was already difficult for anyone to accept guys like these as our protagonists. They directly contribute to America’s crumbling economic strength, and they feel no remorse over this. After all, it’s made them millions.

The movie follows… honestly, I’m having a hard time remembering just what happened in it. Despite it’s repulsive leads, it’s extremely boring. There’s something about the Indian workers competing to be the best team of the month or whatever, but this is a formless piece of work. There’s nothing compelling in it. It bounces between topics, characters, and ideas willy-nilly, sticking to nothing. Combined with the extremely low-rent production value, it really makes the movie feel like a training video for OfficeTiger more than anything else.

The only stuff that really sticks is how often we see evidence of how globalization is really just the new colonialism. The Indians affirm to themselves that they have to get over the subservient attitude that’s ingrained into their culture after hundreds of years of occupation, but the fact is that they’re still at the whims of foreign entities. They’re still working insane hours for relatively small pay. And yet this is not really a theme in the film. It’s just a minor observation that one can glean from it.

Office Tigers has no life in it. Unless it’s some kind of avant-garde satire about economic victimization on a banal, personal scale. It certainly makes you feel the soul-deadening ennui of office work, except I think those scenes are supposed to be at least interesting. I’ll just keep waiting for a good documentary about outsourcing.

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Dan Schindel loves movies more than you do.

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