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Who’s The Devil Now?

Who’s The Devil Now?
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Photo Courtesy of People.com

BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

Ten years ago, we were introduced to the earnest and beleaguered Andrea “Andy” Sachs. The fledgling, would-be journalist was so desperate for a job that she’d take anything, even if it meant lowering herself to work at the number one fashion magazine on the planet for the most famous and powerful female executive. Andy, of course, had never heard of Miranda Priestly — because as editor in chief pointed out, she took herself “too seriously to care” about what she put on her back.

When I first saw The Devil Wears Prada in 2006, I harkened back immediately to my own humble professional beginnings. I felt for poor Andy, asked to do the bidding of this shrew, who expected her assistants to (gasp) get her schedule right, make sure her coffee was hot, and be able to get someone on the phone without it turning into an Abbott & Costello routine.

Things have changed in the last decade, especially with regard to the work ethic of millennials and the putting out to pasture of boomers. Perhaps looking at this film through 2016-eyes might change some minds about who exactly the Prada-wearing devil actually is.

Who’s In Charge Here?

Miranda, as stated, is the boss. Everyone works for her. That’s the dynamic. Her job is to get the magazine out, keep advertisers happy, make sure revenue and ad pages stay up, and that the publication outdoes the competition. And, oh yes, keep a younger, French colleague, who is nipping at her heels, from taking her job. She also has a husband and children to think about. The woman’s plate is full.

She needs to surround herself with people who are going to keep the money machine rolling, so everyone can keep collecting paychecks. Although it would behoove her to acknowledge a job well done by staff members, she clearly has bigger fish to fry than devoting herself to being Andy’s mentor and making sure the second assistant’s post-grad dreams come true.

Speaking of which, the minute the budding writer started to step up, take a real interest in and do well at her job, her unsupportive friends, including her boyfriend and parents, took turns sticking pins in her career balloon, which is actually worse than having a superior who’s all business.

Attitude Is Everything

Miranda got the impression pretty quickly that the young woman to whom she gave a break thought she was doing the company a favor by coming in to work, that her paycheck was actually a generous gift, and that the tasks at hand were beneath her abilities. Hence her job was being done half-assed. Well, what boss would take kindly to that?

Sometimes instead of firing someone believed to have potential, a frustrated and angry boss will give a disgruntled, entitled employee a challenging (read: crappy) assignment to re-establish the dynamic, aka remind everyone who’s boss. Perhaps Miranda would not have had to resort to such tactics, if Andy had shown up for work, not just physically, but mentally; and oh yes, had listened to first assistant Emily’s directives rather than the “helpful” suggestions of mischievous, double trouble children.

Self-preservation With A Desperation Chaser

But what about what Miranda “did to Nigel” as Andy put it. When MP orchestrated her French rival’s becoming president of a fashion house, after she had put up her right hand man for the position, who did not feel let down for Stanley Tucci’s character? But wait, in the end he still had his job as the publication’s creative director, which is quite a prominent position in its own right.

For all Miranda’s big talk about the many writers, photographers and models who she had nurtured, and who would not work with the magazine if she was ousted, the reality is that MP was a woman of a certain age who was revered because of her esteemed position and association with “Runway.”

If she lost that job, let’s not pretend that other companies wouldn’t say, Well if Ellis-Clarke doesn’t want her any more, why should we? They dumped her for a newer, younger version; we should be going in that direction as well.

Without the high-profile magazine as currency, chances are all her loyal followers would be too busy sucking up to her replacement, not waiting around for her to land on her Manolos at another glossy – or start her own blog.

And so the soon-to-once-again-be single mother of two, played the only card she had to keep her job. Would she really have gone to such lengths if the offers were stacked up before her?

Perhaps ten years ago (two years before the 2008 crash), we all rolled our eyes at the movie’s running gag line: a million girls would kill for that job. But, now consider that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for May 2016 was at 4.7%, meaning there are almost 8 million people still out of work. There is probably more head shaking at the self-righteous Andy, who would currently have a devil of a time getting a new job, and a little more understanding of Miranda, who’s just trying to hold on to hers.

 

 

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Lorraine Duffy Merkl
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels BACK TO WORK SHE GOES and FAT CHICK, for which a movie version is in the works.