Soundtracking The Scene: Geto Boys In 'Office Space'
By Stereo Williams
Soundtracking the Scene is an opportunity to look at how Hip-Hop classics have been used in famous movie scenes. Some of our most iconic filmmakers have masterfully incorporated these songs into some of our most acclaimed films; here we examine the synergy.
Mike Judge's 1998 comedy classic Office Space made it clear to anyone who needed convincing that the creator of Beavis and Butt-Head had more up his sleeve than Cornholio and frog baseball jokes.
Judge had become a household name thanks to that ever-chuckling boneheaded duo, who'd taken over MTV and become one of the decade's defining pop culture phenomena. He'd followed it up with another animated hit, FOX's King Of the Hill. The success of Beavis & Butt-Head on MTV led to Judge's first feature-length directorial feature, Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, but Judge had way more up his sleeve.
With Office Space, Judge gave voice to the disaffected American cubicle warrior. The movie captures a time just before the internet became a ubiquitous part of our lives; email is never mentioned, nor is Google. You still had to fight with the office printer on a regular basis, and always had to fill out your TPS reports.
The movie tells the story of Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a listless employee at a software giant. After visiting a hypnotist, and once he learns of massive downsizing at the company, Peter urges his two similarly-disgruntled friends to steal money from the company (using encrypted software), quit their jobs and be free.
Peter's buddies Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), who hates that no one in the office tries to pronounce his name correctly; and Michael Bolton (David Herman), who hates that he shares a name with the loved-and-loathed popular singer; join Peter's crusade, and after launching their money-grabbing computer virus into the company's database, they gleefully quit their jobs. And in the movie's most famous scene, as the Geto Boys' classic "Still" plays, Peter, Samir and Michael take out years of pent-up rage on the hapless computer printer.
One of the film's most famous conceits is that this white collar corporate comedy features a soundtrack populated entirely by Hip-Hop, including gangsta rap classics from Ice Cube and the Geto Boys.
"Still" is one of the standout tracks on the Geto Boys acclaimed 1996 album The Resurrection. It was first Geto Boys album to feature member Willie D since 1991's We Can't Be Stopped; and as such, was marketed as a reunion album for the group's classic lineup. The N.O. Joe-produced song features Scarface, Bushwick Bill and Willie D in full-on incendiary mode; murder and mayhem in classic Geto Boys fashion--as they rage against censors and the powers-that-be. Sitting near the beginning of The Resurrection, it assures any doubters that the Geto Boys are still the Geto Boys.
Office Space still resonates with anyone who has ever had a passive-aggressive asshole for a boss or who has ever had to feign enthusiasm (or wear pieces of flair) to feed the bottom line. It also ironically highlights how Hip-Hop had become a go-to soundtrack for justifiable anger. That this movie's anger was largely from a white male perspective speaks to how Black art gets mainstreamed; but in this classic scene, it also acknowledges the relatability of flat-out hating your job.