Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Santa's Factory Labor System
This 1932 Disney Silly Symphony cartoon is remarkable in that the elves in Santa's workshop are happily employed in a fully Taylorized factory labor system, with each task broken down to its simplest elements, making for utterly replaceable elves. No need for a union here. It's all happy and magical, "bringing joy to a million homes" through efficient production and quality control.
Given the immense pressures on the toy industry within a global marketplace, Santa's workforce will soon need to adapt, with elves of color, underage and women elves doing most of the work with no health-care or retirement benefits, drastically lowered wages, and little to no job security. Productivity will rise, wages will decline, and the Big Guy at the top will keep getting fatter.
The obligatory race humor of the era is present in a few spots, but goes by quickly. Tip of the Apesma hat to the always erudite Mr. Trevor Griffy, who troubled himself to reference this account of the 1941 Disney Animators' Strike, in which the Mouse eventually lost the battle, but won the war and lost his soul.