Purl, written and directed by Kristen Lester and produced by Gillian Libbert-Duncan, follows a pink ball of yarn on her first day of work at B.R.O. Capital.
When I first saw a post about the film in an article on Upworthy, I was taken aback and yet curious about why a ball of yarn would be in a room full of business suited white men. Intrigued enough to follow my first mind and watch the video.
While the article around it talked about toxic masculinity, I refused to read it until I had partaken of the film experience. Rooted in it was my experience as a Black man trying to fit into the corporate world.
It replicates my experience as a Black man trying to fit into an environment which was unwelcoming at best and downright hostile as I earned more money and influence in the companies I worked for. I made the exact same effort to fit in. I lost myself. I wore what they wore, I mirrored their behavior, no matter how uncomfortable it made me and no matter how far it moved me from my personal center in relationship to other people.
What mattered was the opportunity, the chance to make the kind of money and do the kind of work I knew I was capable of and felt I deserved to participate in. But I never realized the price tag associated with it. The self-loathing, the internalized racism, the ulcers, the poor health, the seething rage realizing I was becoming something I hated.
My moment to deviate came when I was offered an opportunity to work at a community college teaching my skills to college students. I realized the problem wasn’t just in the corporate office, but in the feeder mechanisms which weren’t teaching our kids how to gain the skills, the mindsets and the personal integrity to maintain themselves when under fire in the corporate environment.
I left corporate and taught college. Mentored students and prepared them for the challenges of working in environments that didn’t feature their existence, without losing themselves. I would return to positions of corporate leadership in the future with the goal of creating new, integrated and accepting environments if my position allowed it.
However, it was often difficult if not downright impossible to tackle the environment without the management being willing to tackle the hostile BRO culture so prevalent in environments primarily held by white males. If HR didn’t change its policies, new and diverse personnel never showed up to employ.
As with all things, this is a complicated issue. This particular animation handles it, in my opinion, with a great deal of sensitivity and humor, while addressing the off-color and ostracising behavior common to “bro culture” in the modern workplace.
I am happy to see someone attempting to take on toxic cultures with loving humor and a cold hard look at bro cultures which exclude and support patriarchal behaviors and toxic masculinity.
Well done, Pixar!
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