Imagine a movie with enough lasting pop culture influence that a Texas senator runs an ad parodying an infamous scene from that particular movie. Well, that exact thing happened when Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz parodied the infamous ‘copier beatdown’ scene from the now cult classic movie Office Space during his run for the Republican nomination during the 2016 presidential election. The scene’s parody and accompanying “It Feels Good to be a Clinton” song parody of the Geto Boys classic rap song “D*mn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta” that was used in the film are both unsurprisingly cringeworthy to most, but the SNL-esque in its delivery proves the movies pop culture power.
Office Space was written, directed and, based on a series of animated short films that Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge did after being inspired by what he witnessed at a series of temp jobs. He worked multiple temp positions at different Silicon Valley tech companies where he would perform mundane tasks. It was the mundane task of alphabetizing purchase orders and a former coworker who threatened to quit his job if the company moved his desk again that would be the inspiration for the character Milton. Milton (along with his red Swingline stapler) was the central character in the series of animated shorts that aired on MTV’s Liquid Television and Saturday Night Live but it was Stephen Root’s over-the-top portrayal of Milton Waddams that went on to be one of the, if not the, most memorable characters from the movie.
Though his incoherent mumbling, thick-rimmed glasses, red stapler, or threats to burn the building to the ground caused Stephen’s portrayal of Milton is unforgettable; the movie itself is full of unforgettable moments. The movie was not an overnight success though. Fox was extremely disappointed in the film’s domestic gross and credit for the movie’s cult status can be given to Comedy Central who had shown the film a record 35 times by 2003.
Besides the movie’s printer beat-down scene being parodied many times (not just the Ted Cruz parody but also on Family Guy), the many parts of the movie becoming popular internet memes, Lumbergh’s TPS reports becoming everyday office jargon, and the Swingline company producing a red stapler due to an influx of fan requests; Jennifer Anniston said that its not just her infamous character on Friends that gets her recognition. After remembering her character from Office Space (who is a waitress unhappy with her job at a TGI Fridays-Esque chain restaurant and frustrated with her manager’s yearning for her to have more ‘flair’), waitresses ask her if she likes the flair on their uniform (the buttons and certain accouterment that was required to decorate their work uniform). Years after the release of the film, one of the assistant directors of the film noticed while going out to eat the waitstaff at the TGI Fridays was not wearing the usual ‘flair’. When they asked why the manager indicated that after Office Space came out, the chain dropped it from their dress code because so many customers were making so many jokes about the employee’s ‘flair’.
Am I inferring that Office Space should be slated as one of the greatest movies of all time? Is it Citizen Kane or The Godfather? Definitely not. Is it a truly memorable movie that has pop culture influence and lasting power? Most definitely. Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie #5 in its ranking as one of the “25 Great Comedies Movies of the Past 25 years” in 2008. As John Altschuler said, “Office Space spoke to a generation in a way that few movies have.” It brings light to the mundane in a way that doesn’t make fun of us; but showcases the individuals who run this rat race we call life.
Office Space movie poster uploaded by Bemis Balkind – Impawards, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11807247
Beavis and Butthead Title Card attributed to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33921887
Stephen Root at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California attributed to Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Stephen Root Uploaded by maybeMaybeMaybe, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22896176
The Swingline 747 Rio Red by Jgpenate – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18644226