• 02.22.08

Work/Life: “There Will Be Blood”–An Oscar For Workaholic Awareness?



  • The Academy Awards will air on Sunday, and Daniel Day-Lewisis certainly a favorite in the Best Actor category.  His portrayal of oilman Daniel Plainview is undeniably powerful, as well being an over-the-top primer on work/life balance gonehorribly askew.  In fact, it’s agood film to see to get a little distance on one’s own workaholicinfractions.  After all, a man wholies to and manipulates working people to expand his empire, murders two menwhose sensibilities offend him, and cruelly alienates the adopted son for whosedeafness he is partly responsible certainly puts in perspective one’s tendencyto stay late at the office or space out on a PTA meeting. 
  • There are plenty of themes in the movie that can easily beapplied as guideposts toward our own personal growth, in terms of what not todo.  For example, the symbolism ofthe madman’s son being unable to hear him cannot be lost on those of us whosometimes fear we are not taking the time to communicate with ourchildren.   In one scene (andone scene only), Plainview looks back wistfully on a carefree time he once hadas a young man, but quickly represses such foolish non-achievementmemories.   And, whatobstacles he does encounter he blames on everyone but himself, lashing out atreligious figures and even the child he loves (somewhere in his exceedinglyhardened heart).  
  • Hey, there are all sorts of non-Oscar organizations thathonor films for different reasons, be it their suitability to family audiences,or their humanistic themes.  Ithink it’s high time to start a work/life foundation that honors the good andbad examples of the proper ratio of work to life, and “There Will Be Blood” isa perfect place to start.   Wecould call the awards the “Workies,” and the statuette could be much like thegolden Oscar, except that the little guy is depicted as multi-tasking.  He’s got a Bluetooth in one ear, and ahands-free headset in the other; a Blackberry in his left hand, a sandwich inhis right, and the office phone connected to the aforementioned headset isresting on his lap, along with a Wall Street Journal and a spilled cup ofStarbucks.   
  • And the acceptance speeches, I can hear them now: “I’d liketo thank my yoga instructor, for teaching me how to breathe,” or “I wouldn’thave seen what I was doing wrong, in fact I wouldn’t be standing up here todayif it weren’t for the cop who let me off with a warning.”   So enjoy the Oscar ceremony, butkeep an eye out for the movies that deserve to take home a “Workie.”   Especially in the Best SupportingEnabler category.