The Portrayal of Big Business in the Movie, You’ve Got Mail

The Portrayal of Big Business in the Movie, You’ve Got Mail.

Power hungry, greedy, over-worked, selfish, cutthroat, ruthless, rushed, big, sterile, and office buildings. These are nouns or adjectives that many people associate with the term big business. Who’s to blame for these stereotypes? Is it the media or big businesses? Countless movies and television shows have either depicted big businesses or big business employees in a negative light. In the movie, You’ve Got Mail, many of these same stereotypes are portrayed throughout the film.
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) live and work blocks from each other on New York City’s, Upper West Side. Their lives are practically intertwined. They shop at the same place, frequent the same coffee shop, and even own competing bookstores on the same street. They are both involved in dysfunctional, dating, relationships. Joe has the overly hyper book editor Patricia Eden (Parker Posey), while Kathleen lives with the scholarly newspaper columnist Frank Navasky (Greg Kinnear). Then Joe and Kathleen meet virtually in an over thirties chat room. For safety concerns they keep their identities secret (they’re known only by screen names “NY152” and “Shopgirl”). However, they tell each other everything about their lives, including their private feelings, which slowly turn into affection for one another.
When Joe decides to open a new branch of his “Fox Books” chain, he risks putting Kathleen’s

“Shop Around the Corner” into bankruptcy. Naturally, they become enemies. However, they are still unaware that they are communicating with one another through e-mail. Surely her small, independent business will be lost to the conglomerate with a built in news stand and coffee bar. Meanwhile, over the Internet they agree to meet, to finally reveal each other’s true identities. However, Joe sees Kathleen waiting for him in the restaurant where they agreed to meet; he then puts two and two together. Joe, knowing who his e-mail correspondent is, refuses to confront her. The remainder of the movie Joe is struggling to decide whether or not to get in contact with Kathleen, and tell her his true identity. While, Kathleen is trying to figure out whom her Internet mystery man is?
You’ve Got Mail is directed by Nora Ephron and owned by Warner Brothers Entertainment, which is part of the Time Warner Company. Warner Brothers Entertainment is located at 4000 Warner Boulevard in Burbank, California. Warner Brothers’ owns; Warner Brother Pictures, Warner Brothers Pictures International, Warner Independent Pictures, Warner Brothers Television Group, Warner Brothers Home entertainment Group, Warner Brothers Consumer Products, Warner Brothers International Cinemas, Warner Brothers Studio facilities, and DC Comics. There are even smaller companies that are owned by Warner Brother’s companies; an example of this would be Warner Brothers Television group owns the CW network, Telepictures Production, Warner Horizon Television, Warner Brothers Animation, Warner Brothers Domestic Television Distribution, Warner Brothers Domestic Cable Distribution, and Warner Brothers International Television Distribution. In the year 1990, the Time Warner Company made approximately $677 million dollars. If you factor in seventeen years of inflation, today Time Warner makes anywhere between 800 million to 1 billion dollars a year.
Even though Warner Brothers Entertainment is considered a big business, I believe that this factor has no effect on the big business stereotypes portrayed in the movie, You’ve Got Mail. I believe that these stereotypes in You’ve Got Mail come strictly from the media’s stereotypical portrayal of big business.

From the beginning of You’ve Got Mail, the viewer is bombarded with subtle and blatant, stereotypes of big business. In the beginning scene Frank Navasky is showing his girlfriend,
Kathleen Kelly, a newspaper story about big business employees getting fired for playing solitaire on
their work computers during office hours. This scene insinuates many things. It insinuates how corporation employees are lazy; it could also insinuate that corporation employees are discontented and bored with their jobs.
In another scene a dialog occurs between Joe Fox, a C.E.O. of a chain bookstore, and his assistant, Kevin. During this dialog they agree that the neighborhood will be upset that a “big, bad, chain store,” is opening. Joe Fox’s solution to this observation is, “were going to seduce them with our square footage, and our discounts, and our deep arm chairs, and our cappuccino. They’ll hate us in the beginning but, we’ll get them in the end.” This portrays big business owners as mercenaries. That they will do anything to “seduce” customers into buying their product.
There are multiple stereotypes portrayed in a scene where Joe Fox visits his father and grandfather in their office. The scene opens up with the three men talking about Joe Fox’s father’s soon to be wife, Gillian. You then learn that this will not be his father’s first marriage. When asked why he wants to get married his response is “I don’t know,” then he is asked if it’s because he is in love, he replies “possibly”. His father then explains that he is only marrying Gillian, because they had a child together four years prior. Later on in the conversation Joe Fox tells his father and grandfather that his chain bookstore is putting an independent bookstore out of business. His father replies “aw another independent bites the dust,” his grandfather interjects “on to the next!”
This scene illustrates the two most common stereotypes about big business owners. The first stereotype that is portrayed is big business owners are womanizers. Joe Fox’s father, who is a C.E.O, has had multiple dysfunctional relationships with women, and his attitude throughout the movie suggests that he treats women as sexual objects. Another common stereotype is big businessmen are

mercenaries, and will do anything to get customers to buy their product. Joe Fox, his father, and grandfather joke about how Joe Fox’s chain bookstore is putting small, independent bookstores out of
business; and continue to joke about how they are moving unto other small, independent bookstores.
When Kathleen Kelly contacts local news stations to try and save her business, she attacks Fox
Books. Kathleen, her employees, and her friends call them a “cold, cash, cow” and the “big, bad, wolf.” Kathleen also claims that Joe has compared his store to a price club, and the books in his store to cans of olive oil. She knowingly took his statements out of context to use it to her advantage. While Kathleen is being mercenary during this scene of the movie; she is continually portrayed as the victimized small business owner.
Another negative portrayal is Joe Fox’s girlfriend, Patricia Eden. She is depicted as your stereotypical corporate employee. Throughout the movie she displays selfishness, lack of compassion towards others, she is confined by hectic schedules, stressed, mercenary, and high strung. Even her appearance is that of a corporate employee; business suits, business-like shoes, and severe hair and make-up. She also makes multiple jokes about mistreating her fellow employees. However, in contrast to Patricia is Kathleen Kelly, the independent bookstore owner. Kathleen is depicted as carefree, fun loving, compassionate, selfless, and is loyal to her employees and customers. Her physical appearance is also laid back, her hair cut makes her hair flow, opposed to Patricia’s severe hair style, and she wears comfortable clothing.
After analyzing my research I have drawn the conclusion that the movie, You’ve Got Mail, has negative stereotypes of big business throughout the entirety of the movie. However, I do not believe this is an isolated case. After conducting more research on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of stereotypes of big businesses in the media, mostly on television, are negative.
A research study conducted by The Media Research Center’s Free Market from 1995-1997, which is around the same time You’ve Got Mail was released, supports the idea that big businesses are portrayed negatively in the media. They found that successful business owners and employees on prime time television are depicted as villains more than members of any other profession or occupation. Also, they are rarely caricatured as trustworthy citizens who contribute to the betterment of society. The researchers continued to discover that big business owners make up 29.2 percent of criminal characters on television, which is more than the portrayal of mobsters or gang members. When they further
researched the issue they discovered that the businessmen who are depicted negatively on television are most often successful at their careers, as was the case in You’ve Got Mail. Joe Fox’s father, was a successful big business owner.
The New York Times wrote an article in 1987 entitled, ‘Bad Guys’ Wear Pin Stripes. This article is about how businessmen are mostly portrayed negatively on prime time television. The businessman is portrayed in the media, mostly on television, at least fourteen times in a week. This portrayal is usually not positive. They are often depicted as murderers, liars, and thieves, and reach their success dishonestly. “Off-screen, there are, of course, business executives who are venal, corrupt, and criminal. But in prime-time television dramas, a full one-third of all business executives are corrupt or criminal, according to George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.” Another compelling point they present is that the depiction of businessmen are getting worse, and the television industry is doing nothing to fix it.
Even though this article was written twenty-years ago, I believe that this is still the case today. The new AMC show, Mad Men, which aired this past summer, is about businessmen in the 1960’s. More then half of the businessmen on this show have cheated on their wives, some of them have drug or alcohol problems, and the majority of them have committed illegal acts.
I felt conducting this study was extremely successful. I believe it helped me become more media literate, especially in recognizing the different stereotypes that are portrayed in the media. Before this study I would watch a movie or a television program, and would be completely oblivious to the different stereotypes, the excessive and inappropriate use of violence, sex, and product placement. I believe that in the back of my mind I knew all those negative things were present in television and in movies, I was just simply not taught how to recognize them. However, one of the drawbacks from
becoming media literate is that now I simply cannot just enjoy a movie without thinking; was it really necessary to pan over to that Coca Cola can? Or, why is the African American being made to look
stupid? For example on Wednesdays I watch the television show Gossip Girls, and I’m beginning to notice the blatant and negative stereotypes that are being portrayed of rich kids in New York City.
I cannot help but wonder why the media feels the need to portray ethnicities, occupations, and the different genders, in a stereotypical manner? I don’t think we, as a society, will ever fully know the answer to this question. However, it is important to become media literate so that we can filter out the negative stereotypes the media continues to shove in our faces on a daily basis.
After researching the movie, You’ve Got Mail, I have come to the conclusion that big business is depicted negatively throughout the course of the film. However, by researching studies pertaining to this issue I have found that this is a common stereotype. I have found that more than half of the businessmen portrayed on prime-time television are made out to be villains. Also, the depiction of businessmen has continually gotten worse over the past twenty years, and that the television industry has done nothing about it. I believe that conducting this type of media study to find the different kinds of stereotypes portrayed in the media, is extremely successful. I would use this technique of media research to conduct studies in the future.

Works Cited

1.Basler, Barbara. “Bad Guys Wear Pin Stripes.” 29 January, 1987. The New York Times Company.
2.Noyes, Rich. “Issue Analysis: Big Business vs. Small Business on Prime-Time.” June 1997.
Media Research Center.
3.Star Pulse. 1999-2007.
4.Warner Bros. Studios. 2007.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Allegory Of American Pie By Don Mc Lean

Ask anyone what was the defining moment in the rock history of the 1960s was and all you will get is a one word answer: Woodstock. The three day rock festival that defined an era was only one of many music festivals of the '60s. But Woodstock has come to symbolize, "an era of peaceful, free- loving, drug- taking hippie youth, carefree before harsher realities hit..." (Layman 40). The Woodstock festival ended a century filled with many metamorphoses of rock'n'roll, from the era of pop music to the rebirth of folk music to the invention of acid rock. But some cynics say that rock'n'roll died with the death of Buddy Holly before the 60s even began. One such person is Don McLean. The poet behind the haunting epic song about the death of 'danceable' music, McLean wrote the ever popular song, "American Pie" (appendix 1). The most important song in rock'n'roll history, "American Pie", is the song about the demise of rock'n'roll after Buddy Holly's death and the heathenism of rock that resulted. Although McLean himself won't reveal any symbolism in his songs, "American Pie" is one of the most analyzed pieces of literature in modern society. Although not all of its secrets have been revealed, many "scholars" of the sixties will agree that the mystery of this song is one of the reasons it has become so successful- everyone wants to know the meanings of its allegories. Proof of "American Pie's" truth lies in the allegory of the song. Many People enjoy the song but have no idea what it means- Who is the Jester? What is the levee? When the deeper story is found, the importance of the song is unearthed. "American Pie" is not only a song, it is an epic poem about the course of rock'n'roll...

Carl Orffs Philosophies In Music Education

While Carl Orff is a very seminal composer of the 20th century, his greatest success and influence has been in the field of Music Education. Born on July 10th in Munich, Germany in 1895, Orff refused to speak about his past almost as if he were ashamed of it. What we do know, however, is that Orff came from a Bavarian family who was very active in the German military. His father's regiment band would often play through some of the young Orff's first attempts at composing. Although Orff was adamant about the secrecy of his past, Moser's Musik Lexicon says that he studied in the Munich Academy of Music until 1914. Orff then served in the military in the first world war. After the war, he held various positions in the Mannheim and Darmstadt opera houses then returned home to Munich to further study music. In 1925, and for the rest of his life, Orff was the head of a department and co-founder of the Guenther School for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich where he worked with musical beginners. This is where he developed his Music Education theories. In 1937, Orff's Carmina Burana premiered in Frankfurt, Germany. Needless to say, it was a great success. With the success of Carmina Burana, Orff orphaned all of his previous works except for Catulli Carmina and the En trata which were rewritten to be acceptable by Orff. One of Orff's most admired composers was Monteverdi. In fact, much of Orff's work was based on ancient material. Orff said: I am often asked why I nearly always select old material, fairy tales and legends for my stage works. I do not look upon them as old, but rather as valid material. The time element disappears, and only the spiritual power remains. My...

Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

Throughout the history of music, many great composers, theorists, and instrumentalists have left indelible marks and influences that people today look back on to admire and aspire to. No exception to this idiom is Johann Sebastian Bach, whose impact on music was unforgettable to say the least. People today look back to his writings and works to both learn and admire. He truly can be considered a music history great. Bach, who came from a family of over 53 musicians, was nothing short of a virtuosic instrumentalist as well as a masterful composer. Born in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21, 1685, he was the son of a masterful violinist, Johann Ambrosius Bach, who taught his son the basic skills for string playing. Along with this string playing, Bach began to play the organ which is the instrument he would later on be noted for in history. His instruction on the organ came from the player at Eisenach's most important church. He instructed the young boy rather rigorously until his skills surpassed anyone?s expectations for someone of such a young age. Bach suffered early trauma when his parents died in 1695. He went to go live with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who also was a professional organist at Ohrdruf. He continued his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well as introducing him to the harpsichord. The rigorous training on these instruments combined with Bach?s masterful skill paid off for him at an early age. After several years of studying with his older brother, he received a scholarship to study in Luneberg, Germany, which is located on the northern tip of the country. As a result, he left his brother?s tutelage and went to go and study there. The teenage years brought Bach to several parts of Germany where he...

Michelangelo

Michelangelo was pessimistic in his poetry and an optimist in his artwork. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo?s poetry was pessimistic in his response to Strazzi even though he was complementing him. Michelangelo?s sculpture brought out his optimism. Michelangelo was optimistic in completing The Tomb of Pope Julius II and persevered through it?s many revisions trying to complete his vision. Sculpture was Michelangelo?s main goal and the love of his life. Since his art portrayed both optimism and pessimism, Michelangelo was in touch with his positive and negative sides, showing that he had a great and stable personality. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo Buonarroti was called to Rome in 1505 by Pope Julius II to create for him a monumental tomb. We have no clear sense of what the tomb was to look like, since over the years it went through at least five conceptual revisions. The tomb was to have three levels; the bottom level was to have sculpted figures representing Victory and bond slaves. The second level was to have statues of Moses and Saint Paul as well as symbolic figures of the active and contemplative life- representative of the human striving for, and reception of, knowledge. The third level, it is assumed, was to have an effigy of the deceased pope. The tomb of Pope Julius II was never finished. What was finished of the tomb represents a twenty-year span of frustrating delays and revised schemes. Michelangelo had hardly begun work on the pope?s tomb when Julius commanded him to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to complete the work done in the previous century under Sixtus IV. The overall organization consists of four large triangles at...

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin Ireland on October 16, 1854. He is one of the most talented and most controversial writers of his time. He was well known for his wit, flamboyance, and creative genius and with his little dramatic training showing his natural talent for stage and theatre. He is termed a martyr by some and may be the first true self-publicist and was known for his style of dress and odd behavior. Wilde, 1882 His Father, William Wilde, was a highly accredited doctor and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a writer of revolutionary poems. Oscar had a brother William Charles Kingsbury along with his father's three illegitimate children, Henry, Emily, and Mary. His sister, Isola Emily Francesca died in 1867 at only ten years of age from a sudden fever, greatly affecting Oscar and his family. He kept a lock of her hair in an envelope and later wrote the poem 'Requiescat' in her memory. Oscar and his brother William both attended the Protora Royal School at Enniskillen. He had little in common with the other children. He disliked games and took more interest in flowers and sunsets. He was extremely passionate about anything that had to do with ancient Greece and with Classics. Wilde during school years In 1871, he was awarded a Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin and received many awards and earned the highest honor the college offered to an undergraduate, the Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he also won the College's Berkley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating from Oxford, Oscar moved to London with his friend Frank Miles, a well-known portrait painter of the time. In 1878 his poem Ravenna was published, for which he won the...

The History Of Greek Theater

Theater and drama in Ancient Greece took form in about 5th century BCE, with the Sopocles, the great writer of tragedy. In his plays and those of the same genre, heroes and the ideals of life were depicted and glorified. It was believed that man should live for honor and fame, his action was courageous and glorious and his life would climax in a great and noble death. Originally, the hero's recognition was created by selfish behaviors and little thought of service to others. As the Greeks grew toward city-states and colonization, it became the destiny and ambition of the hero to gain honor by serving his city. The second major characteristic of the early Greek world was the supernatural. The two worlds were not separate, as the gods lived in the same world as the men, and they interfered in the men's lives as they chose to. It was the gods who sent suffering and evil to men. In the plays of Sophocles, the gods brought about the hero's downfall because of a tragic flaw in the character of the hero. In Greek tragedy, suffering brought knowledge of worldly matters and of the individual. Aristotle attempted to explain how an audience could observe tragic events and still have a pleasurable experience. Aristotle, by searching the works of writers of Greek tragedy, Aeschulus, Euripides and Sophocles (whose Oedipus Rex he considered the finest of all Greek tragedies), arrived at his definition of tragedy. This explanation has a profound influence for more than twenty centuries on those writing tragedies, most significantly Shakespeare. Aristotle's analysis of tragedy began with a description of the effect such a work had on the audience as a "catharsis" or purging of the emotions. He decided that catharsis was the purging of two specific emotions, pity and...

Scholarship Essay About Goals

Ever since I was a young kid I have always been interested with aircraft. I was so curious of how airplane's fly. I remember taking my toys apart to see how it works. As a kid I wanted to go to the airport to watch the airplanes land and fly and pondered how this happens. Other kids wanted to go to the amusement places. As I grew older I became more and more interested in aircraft and the technology behind it. I always involved myself with aviation early on. I read books and magazines on aviation, took museum tours, built model airplanes. When I was younger my father would take me to aircraft repair facilities where I would watch in great fascination. In my teens, went up to the military bases and befriended many soldiers involved with aircraft and asked them numerous questions. I got to meet many aeronautics engineers and borrowed their old textbooks and read them till the wee hours of the morning. As technology improved with information superhighway, I logged on the web. Stayed up for hours and hours searching through web pages and web pages of information about aircraft and technology. I started my elementary school in the Philippines, then we moved to U.S. and continued my high school education and graduated. Enrolled at the CCSF to pursue my college education and now I am in the 2nd year in CCSF taking aeronautics. My goal now is to obtain my AS degree from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) so I can transfer to a University and get a Bachelors degree and to continue for my Masters degree in Aeronautics Engineering. I will strive hard to reach the peak level of my career which is a Professor and hopefully to be an aeronautic professor so...

Circus Circus Enterprises Case Studies

Executive Summary: Circus Circus Enterprises is a leader and will continue to be in the gaming industry. In recent years, they have seen a decline in profit and revenue; management tends to blame the decrease on continuing disruptions from remodeling, expansion, and increased competition. Consequently, Circus has reported decreases in its net income for 1997 and 1998 and management believes this trend will continue as competition heightens. Currently the company is involved in several joint ventures, its brand of casino entertainment has traditionally catered to the low rollers and family vacationers through its theme park. Circus should continue to expand its existing operations into new market segments. This shift will allow them to attract the up scale gambler. Overview Circus Circus Enterprises, Inc founded in 1974 is in the business of entertainment, with its core strength in casino gambling. The company?s asset base, operating cash flow, profit margin, multiple markets and customers, rank it as one of the gaming industry leaders. Partners William G. Bennett an aggressive cost cutter and William N. Pennington purchased Circus Circus in 1974 as a small and unprofitable casino. It went public in 1983, from 1993 to 1997; the average return on capital invested was 16.5%. Circus Circus operates several properties in Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin, and one in Mississippi, as well as 50% ownership in three other casinos and a theme park. On January 31,1998 Circus reported net income of 89.9 million and revenues of 1.35 billion, this is a down from 100 million on 1.3 billion in 1997. Management sees this decline in revenue due to the rapid and extensive expansion and the increased competition that Circus is facing. Well established in the casino gaming industry the corporation has its focus in the entertainment business and has particularly a popular theme resort concept....

Effect Of Civil War On American Economy

The Economies of the North and South, 1861-1865 In 1861, a great war in American history began. It was a civil war between the north and south that was by no means civil. This war would have great repercussions upon the economy of this country and the states within it. The American Civil War began with secession, creating a divided union of sorts, and sparked an incredibly cataclysmic four years. Although the actual war began with secession, this was not the only driving force. The economy of the Southern states, the Confederacy, greatly if not entirely depended on the institution of slavery. The Confederacy was heavily reliant on agriculture, and they used the profits made from the sale of such raw materials to purchase finished goods to use and enjoy. Their major export was cotton, which thrived on the warm river deltas and could easily be shipped to major ocean ports from towns on the Mississippi and numerous river cities. Slavery was a key part of this, as slaves were the ones who harvested and planted the cotton. Being such an enormous unpaid work force, the profits made were extraordinarily high and the price for the unfinished goods drastically low in comparison; especially since he invention of the cotton gin in 1793 which made the work all that much easier and quicker. In contrast, the economical structure of the Northern states, the Union, was vastly dependent on industry. Slavery did not exist in most of the Union, as there was no demand for it due to the type of industrial development taking place. As the Union had a paid work force, the profits made were lower and the cost of the finished manufactured item higher. In turn, the Union used the profits and purchased raw materials to use. This cycle...

Evaluation Of The Effectiveness Of Trade Embargoes

Although I am a strong critic of the use and effectiveness of economic sanctions, such as trade embargoes, for the sake of this assignment, I will present both their theoretical advantages and their disadvantages based upon my research. Trade embargoes and blockades have traditionally been used to entice nations to alter their behavior or to punish them for certain behavior. The intentions behind these policies are generally noble, at least on the surface. However, these policies can have side effects. For example, FDR's blockade of raw materials against the Japanese in Manchuria in the 1930s arguably led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in U.S. involvement in World War II. The decades-long embargo against Cuba not only did not lead to the topple of the communist regime there, but may have strengthened Castro's hold on the island and has created animosity toward the United States in Latin America and much suffering by the people of Cuba. Various studies have concluded that embargoes and other economic sanctions generally have not been effective from a utilitarian or policy perspective, yet these policies continue. Evaluation of the effectiveness of Trade Embargoes Strengths Trade embargoes and other sanctions can give the sender government the appearance of taking strong measures in response to a given situation without resorting to violence. Sanctions can be imposed in conjunction with other measures to achieve conflict prevention and mitigation goals. Sanctions may be ineffective: goals may be too elusive, the means too gentle, or cooperation from other countries insufficient. It is usually difficult to determine whether embargoes were an effective deterrent against future misdeeds: embargoes may contribute to a successful outcome, but can rarely achieve ambitious objectives alone. Some regimes are highly resistant to external pressures to reform. At the same time, trade sanctions may narrow the...