A few weeks ago, stuck in the waiting room at the emergency vet (the cat is fine!), I watched the 2001 movie Monsters, Inc . from beginning to end. The movie is very technically about two monsters who work at a factory where they scare small children in the night in order to power the monster-only city they live in. In theory, Monsters, Inc. is a buddy comedy, but it struck me instead as a movie about the drudgery of work. The monsters pour themselves mugs of sludgy coffee, worry about meeting their “scare” quotas, and stress about appeasing the company’s board members. Even in the fictional universe of Monsters, Inc. , I thought, work fucking sucks. This sentiment is innocuous enough to be the subplot of a children’s movie. But to embed it in a broader political view—to suggest that people should be able to meet their basic needs without doing jobs they find soul-deadening—is usually to offend if not completely befuddle. Work is supposed to be an incontrovertible good. That very idea is so deeply ingrained in the way American society is arranged that it can be difficult for workers, both human and monster, to challenge, even as they exhaust themselves doing largely trivial tasks . I’ve certainly bought into many of society’s prescriptions about work, viewing it as both an economic necessity as well as a way to satisfy an existential need to feel useful and whole. Like many workers in my age and class cohorts, […]