Landscapes of Global Capital
tv globe icon link to home Downsizing
"Nothing is permanent but change.
The landscape is constantly shifting.
Everyday, companies are downsizing."
First Union01-99 First Union01-99

Watching these mythological-style figures changing the face of the capitalist city, there is barely a hint of how the everyday lives of men and women are affected by this gargantuan transformation. Just as this transformation is driven without recourse to apparent exploitation of labor, so too human beings seem nearly absent in this allegory about epochal change in the capitalist world. But if we look closely at one extraordinary scene, we do in fact see a highly symbolized account of "creative destruction's" impact on people.

When the narrator states that "Everyday companies are downsizing," the corresponding scene shows a giant boring machine tunneling into the side of a building, cutting away and extracting massive debris from the side of the building. Beneath this dramatic imagery at the bottom of the frame, if one looks closely, are miniature figures of people/employees who are streaming/fleeing out the door. As a metaphor for downsizing, these figures carry umbrellas to symbolically protect them from the wreckage and debris of capitalist restructuring that rains down on them.

This is certainly the most deliberate and the harshest image of downsizing we have seen in a corporate ad. It is a powerful allusion to the reality of corporate downsizing and its human consequences, even if it is presented in the most fantastic of circumstances.


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Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey