While daydreaming at work, I was considering what could be the worst possible company to work for, but not just like the company itself – which figure would make the worst CEO, the worst group of accountants, the worst board and the worst workforce? Originally, I was thinking of all real-life examples, but before long I was thinking how this would merely become a recounting of stories we are all already aware of. We KNOW Enron’s exec’s were shortsighted, we KNOW Bernie Madoff would make for a terrible CFO, or how bad the corporate culture of Uber or Amazon is in real life, and it wouldn’t make for an interesting read to recap these failures again (and in less detail, and probably incorrectly!). But then I was thinking, what would be the worst FICTIONAL company to work for? Man, suddenly I had MANY opinions of what could make for a truly disastrous company.
Board of Directors: The Council of Thirteen for the Guild of Calamitous Intent from “the Venture Brothers”. If you are unfamiliar, “the Venture Brothers” is a satire of early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but older and with a ton of psychoses and a ton of drugs, and the bad guys are part of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, which is ruled by the Council of Thirteen, who are magnificently inept and evil to boot. They spend most of their time trying to fuck each other (in a literal and figurative sense), never know what’s going on (which leads to frequent assassination, and thus turnover – terrible for morale), and loyally devoted to the established bureaucracy of the Guild. Not only are they evil, but they are sticklers for red tape administration. I originally though SPECTRE from the James Bond films would be the worst, as they are constantly stealing nuclear weapons and threatening to destroy the planet (where is the ROI or benefit to shareholders in that?), but they are at least mildly competent, and the Council is led by hologram David Bowie. (Evil + inept X boatloads of drugs) + David Bowie = terrible Board of Directors.
President: Mr Burns from “the Simpsons”. Do I need to explain who Mr Burns is, and why he’d be terrible to work under? He’s petty and vindictive, and constantly belittling Smithers, who must have the most massive inferiority complex. Mr Burns could certainly retire with all his wealth, but he sticks around only to make your life more difficult and unpleasant. On top of that, you have to consider the possibility that Smithers fits the profile of someone destined to shoot up his office.
CEO: Willy Wonka. Originally I was between Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark – two billionaires who don’t have much involvement in the day-to-day operations, but do show up to make massive demands of everyone else so they can go jerk off with some bad guys. But at least they are GOOD guys, because you could have Lex Luthor, who is malicious and very honed in on blowing up your house. So two inattentive options and a competent albeit evil one… none of these make for a necessarily terrible CEO. But Willy Wonka – oh man that guy is a dick. He constantly lets visitors DIE in his plant, and they most likely get folded into their final product – surely this kind of activity would require a shutdown, but no. He only hires little people, and forces them to live in the plant and to sing and dance on command. Cold Stone Creamery use to require employees sing whenever someone left a tip; obviously, I would put one dollar in at a time and make the employees sing again and again and again — now imagine that, AND dancing, AND living there, AND people dying all the time. This is a fucked up movie for children.
CFO: CHOAM from “Dune”. If you never read “Dune” (and you should!), CHOAM is the all-powerful international federation responsible for harvesting and distributing of the drug melange (or “spice”). Being drug pusher is hardly my biggest issue with CHOAM – lots of organizations push drugs, but their financial diversification is atrocious – they ONLY have spice, and nothing else. I don’t think having 100% of your future hinging on one asset is a wise fiscal path for a company, let alone one asset that is located on an inhospitable planet that is poorly managed and constantly under attack from environmental terrorists who constantly (and with surprisingly little coordination) disrupt the flow of spice, costing them incalculable sums. Just like that, with one tiny insurrection on a foreign planet, payday has been delayed. CHOAM fits the mold of evil AND shitty at their job.
COO: Weyland-Yutani from “Alien”. If it’s been awhile, let’s recount the terrible ways Weyland-Yutani screwed their employees: they are massively corrupt, they constantly lie to their employees about their missions, they transport bio hazards (to put it the nicest way possible) without alerting their teams, they require them to collect and maintain living samples of organisms regardless of the impact to the crew’s health, and attempt to clone zenomorphs. We’ve had a few terrible or morally bankrupt individuals or groups so far, but none have actively participated in having their employees brutally murdered through either gross negligence or premeditated murder. “Weyland-Yutani: You WILL Be Gutted By and Serve as a Vessel For an Alien”.
Attorneys: Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from “Saturday Night Live” and Abyss from WWE. There are SO many fictional attorneys to choose from, but they tend to be knowledgeable or capable, if morally questionable, so finding some with particularly damning traits was a challenge but here we are. First, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer: to start, he’s a defense attorney and therefore essentially useless to us in a corporate setting. Giving his lack of time in the modern world implies he has so many continued learning and education courses to take in order to get current, assuming he isn’t already behind on the technicalities. Do you think a caveman is going to be able to navigate the intricacies of a corporate merger? No way.
Second, Abyss from WWE. I don’t follow a ton of WWE (note – this means none at all beyond Wrestlemania – I’M ONLY SO MUCH OF A MAN), but Abyss is wrestling alias of Joseph Park, Esquire. So handling cases during the day, getting thrown through tables at night – this is going to lead to a lot of unexpected PTO dealing with those injuries. In the same vein, it’s got to be difficult to keep “work life” and “personal life” separate – imagine Stone Cold shows up and calls out your dignity? Well, workplace policies be damned, that son of a bitch has got to get power-dropped. I would be so pissed to have spent days prepping for a meeting with the corporate attorneys only for the table to get flipped and my chair ripped out from under me to be slammed against someone else. I WORKED REAL HARD ON THOSE PAMPHLETS YOU GUYS AND NOW THEY’RE COVERED IN SWEAT.
Accountants: Norm Peterson from “Cheers” and Ben Affleck from “the Accountant”. These choices mirror the logic behind our attorneys – one is incapable and the other has a lot of extracurricular baggage that all but guarantees you aren’t getting his full attention. Norm is a regular at Cheers, so you know he’s either chronically absent nursing a drink at the bar, calling off because he’s hungover or trying to tabulate this quarter’s figures with a blaring hangover. Sure, he’s a good guy, but you’re going to want to strangle him for his lack of dependability.
For Ben Affleck in “the Accountant” (Christian Wolff, if we want his actually character name, which we do not), he’s going to intermingle his personal life with work, and shoot anyone who attempts to pass off any bogus figures to him. We don’t need that level of energy here. He is, by far, the most capable person in the company, lending to his high-functioning form of autism, but he isn’t much fun to talk to at office parties. I really just want to lock him in a room with Norm. (Unrelated, but they should totally scrap an extended DC universe, and instead focus on sequels to “the Accountant” — they could TOTALLY make his character into something like autistic-Batman, and I would 100% see every single movie. Why waste times with shitty characters and shitty universes when we have a great one available?!?! Guys, I should totally work in Hollywood.)
HR: Pam Poovey from “Archer”. If you are unfamiliar with “Archer”, Pam is the HR rep for a spy agency who is quickly outed as a sexual harasser, sexist, racist drug-addict who is incapable of keeping a secret when not running her own fight club. I know it was an intentionally decision by the writers of this show to make the most straight-line person in a normal company the absolute worst person in this fictional company, but after wracking my brain, I cannot think of someone more (less?) suited to help our company achieve none of its goals.
R&D: Jurassic Park and Umbrella Corp from “Resident Evil”. Another instance were I couldn’t fairly decide which is truly worst, so we’ll cheat and combine them. Don’t like it? MAKE UP YOUR OWN THEN.
Jurassic Park is obvious – the audacity of man to recreate literal monsters that can snuff humans out without much effort, essentially replacing mankind as the apex predator. This is a group of people either unwilling to examine the ethical repercussions of their decisions, or never even considered them. The good news is these dinosaurs seem to have a great sense of only tearing the faces off of the bad guys, and letting the good guys escape with nary a scratch (and extraordinary amounts of PTSD). So as long as you’re one of the good guys trying to SAVE the dinosaurs and not kill them or sell them to the government, you’ll be fine. (Note – I recently saw “Jurassic World”, and they have a soundbite about how the company paid out $800 million in damages after the collapse of the park in the reboot, which seems wildly low. HUNDREDS of people were killed, with thousands more injured (including Jimmy Buffett!) due to insufficient protections and the fact they genetically bred the most vicious hybrid dinosaur possible. To put on my legal cap and invoke some torts, if you possess a vicious or wild animal, there is no protection or defense against this animal mauling or injuring a person. Dinosaurs would fit here. Yes I know I’m rambling).
Umbrella Corp repeatedly “accidentally” turns citizens and animals into ferocious zombies. You’d think the citizens of Raccoon City (terrible name) would bail and turn the town into a ghost town after one zombie scare, but no, this shit happens throughout a dozen games and a handful of movies. Seriously, how do you remain in business after everyone you know has been turned into a zombie and subsequently shot in the face?
Honorable mention – “Westworld”. Mostly because I don’t watch it because it’s essentially a intro-level philosophy course, and also because we already have one Michael Crichton property included. He definitely has a plot pattern he likes to stick to.
Front lines: The droid army from “Stars Wars” prequels. The worst possible people to helm our company on the front lines in day-to-day business and interact with our devoted, likely monopolistically-restrained customers would be the droid army from “Star Wars”. Hear me out – I was trying to think of the most inept possible group of people possible, and originally landed on stormtroopers. They can’t hit shit, they are constantly outmaneuvered by a poorly-managed rebel army and appear to fear failure more than desire achieving their mission (no I’m not talking about US forces in Vietnam), but then I realized, even this shit-bird army defeated the army of droids in the prequels. Somewhere out there is a massively disappointed engineer who realizes his life work is a massive failure that led to the rise of space fascism. To really hammer this home, imagine calling our shitty company and being forced to go through an endless parade of robo-messaging systems, endlessly screaming “I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO A HUMAN PLEASE”. But no human ever comes, because life in opposition to our company is futile.
So this is the worst company you could possible assemble. I like to imagine they decided to re-invent lawn darts and market them to children. Did I forget any truly terrible choices, or a specific role? Try to tell me I’m wrong in the comments, and then face me like a man you cowards.
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