(Financial) Success, As Portrayed in Movies

Published 2006-07-12

The audience knows the female lead is a Successful Person because she works in a busy, brightly-lit office in the cool part of town. The business of the office is probably related to advertising or media. When she enters the office in the morning she always has a paper coffee cup with a lid, and maybe she has a backpack. As she crosses the main office (which is, don't forget, busy), lots of Lackeys and Underlings ask her to make big decisions, and her Colorful Gay Co-Worker says sassy things to her." Is this because (assuming they're meant to identify with the female lead), women secretly equate "being busy" with "success?"

We can surmise the male lead is a Successful Person because he works in an office in a tall, gray building. The business of the office is vaguely financial. He has a private office with a window and Serious Computer (i.e. not an iSomething). When he enters the office, he always carries a briefcase, and his coworkers greet him with "Hello, Mr. Successful Male Lead" in respectful tones that let us know they genuinely like him, but also know that he's kind of their social better. Except for the Ethnic Office Worker (who is usually a security guard or perhaps some kind of math whiz), who can give the male lead a little crap, because they both love sports, or cars, or used to date the same woman. He talks with his other peers, at least one of whom is a barely-tolerable sexist jerk, about golf, or boats. Is this because (again assuming they're supposed to identify with the male lead), men equate "being kind of an ass, but a likable ass" with "success?"

We know the villain is a financial success because s/he has a huge desk in a huge office at the tippy-top of a shiny skyscraper. The office is eerily quiet. The successful villain's contact with coworkers is through a squawkbox on the desk, or maybe a young, slinky assistant who quietly crosses the room to announce that the Major Plot Advancement is about to happen. Of course, if you're a financially successful supervillain, you have a super-lair in a volcano on a remote island, and your inter-office communications mostly take the form of P.A. announcements, dropping insubordinate underlings into shark pits, and maniacal laughing.

Financially successful non-villain heavies (or aging foils) have the same kinds of offices as villains, but they may be located in older buildings, and be decorated with dark wooden antiques and pictures of hunting dogs.