Popular culture has shown many different portrayals of human resources (HR) over the years, however HR is rarely shown in a positive light. They go from being shown, or treated, as if they are evil and sadistic in some representations, to being depicted as overly friendly pushovers. There are many examples of these alternating stereotypes in the media, whether it be television shows, movies, or even comic strips.
One of the more extremely negative depictions of human resources in the media is the comic strip, Dilbert, written and illustrated by Scott Adams. This comic satirizes company and workplace issues. One of the reoccurring characters in the comic is named Catbert. Catbert is a cat and the “evil director of human resources” (Adams). He is best known for using his “random policy generator” (Adams) to come up with ridiculous regulations.
In one of the comic strips he is featured in, Catbert needs to keep payroll expenses low. In order to do this he forces his assistant to give all the employees bad reviews. Catbert proceeds to give the assistant a list of employee defects. The next picture shows the assistant listing off Dilbert’s defects as he gives him his yearly review. Dilbert becomes increasingly skeptical of the legitimacy of the review when he realizes his defects were “suspiciously alphabetical” (Adams).
This is, unfortunately, one of society’s views of HR workers that popular culture is trying to represent. Catbert is shown as greedy, evil, and sadistic. He is also shown as distant and removed from the situation as he delegates tasks that should be his to someone else. This is but one of the pieces of evidence that support the corrupt and greedy stereotype of HR that has evolved from society’s fear of human resources.
Another representation, along these same lines, is present in the movie Office Space (1999). This movie revolves around Peter Gibbons, a disgruntled office worker. The company he works for has to lay some employees off. In order to decide who is going to be laid off, two human resource workers are brought in to interview all the employees and decide. These HR workers, also known as the two Bobs, are very unconcerned with the actual employees. The HR workers haven’t met any of the employees before. They are very distant and have but one purpose: to fire people. This does not make them very well liked.
No one likes being fired. It makes it even worse that the people being brought in to fire the employees have never even met them. The HR workers indifference just adds to the hostile feelings many feel towards human resources. They are already associated with laying off employees and the way they are portrayed in this media source only makes it worse.
I would also like to look at the popular television show, The Office. This television show is about the crazy antics of the employees at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Toby Flenderson, played by Scott Lieberstein, is the human resources representative. He is constantly...