Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Swing Vote: Michael Scott

There's a lot of chatter right now about Pennsylvania.
The other day, someone commented that Obama's VP pick, Joe Biden, is from Delaware, yes - but right next to Philadelphia, which is why he's often called the "third senator from Pennsylvania."

I know this should matter.

But politics is not what I thought of when I addressed an envelope today to someone in Pennsylvania.

I thought of Scranton, and Michael Scott, and I wondered how far Scranton is from the addressee, and whether there will be any more "Office" festivals held there in the next year.

Because my favorite show is set in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Unbelievably, the show's faux company, Dunder Mifflin, raised really money for charity recently - see, you can join Dunder Mifflin Infinity "offices" online. And by doing so, a bunch of people raised money for lymphoma.

Take that, Michael Scott's Fun Run for the Rabid.

But what if Steve Carell's character, branch manager Michael Scott, was a delegate? Or super-delegate? Or what if he, instead of Kevin Costner, held the swing vote in his hand?

Turns out that's partly how he plays the bumbling, often well-meaning but sometimes a downright jerk boss. Kind of. Carell noted in one interview that the creators encouraged him to think of the character, who leads around a documentary camera crew, as pitching himself and his business to Jennifer Aniston. Much of the humor, then, comes not only from the painfully familiar awkward office moments that occur around cubicles everyday, but from the acute awareness Michael constantly has that he's playing to an audience. The more you watch it, the more clear it becomes that a lot of the brilliance of the show is the implied impact the camera has on the "workers." They act differently because of the camera - like real people would - instead of attempting to ignore its presence, the way actors usually have to, or playing to its presence, the way great actors do.

Much griping has been registered during the last eight years. No, Bush wasn't a great CEO. No, he didn't get good grades.

But it could be worse.

Michael Scott could have the swing vote.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

HAH! I think the fate of our nation should be left in the capable hands of Dwight!

Schrute, Schrute, Schrute!