View from the Top (2003) is a movie about flight attendants. Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow), a small-town girl, dreams of escaping the dead-end life in her town and wishes to get out of it to see the world. She reads a book by a popular flight attendant Sally Weston who writes about her free travels around the world. Donna becomes a flight attendant at a small commuter airlines, hoping to transfer to a bitter international airline later. However, her personal life and professional rivalries keep her from fulfilling her dream. She eventually does fly international to the destinations she had been dreaming of, only to realize that happiness was to be found in other things than just counting the number of countries you get to fly to. The movie was not very liked by critics. I did like it though for two reasons- One, it accurately potrays that becoming a flight attendant is a dream for many young small-town girls. Second, it does a good job of communicating that when it comes to professional work “all that glitters is not gold”. The movie does a decent job of presenting the flight attendant profession, the training, the challenges, and the politics in the job.
There are parts of the movie that can be effectively used in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior classes. Of course, it is a good movie for flight attendant training classes. And, for a more general audience, the DVD may be worthwhile to buy simply for a useful bonus feature on the history of the flight attendant profession.
(I am certainly curious as to what actual flight attendants think about this movie. So, if you are a flight attendant reading this blog, I would love to hear from you).
Most entrepreneurial activity is context-specific. But if there is one entrepreneurship movie that students from all across the world can find interesting it is Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999). This movie is a fictionalized account of the early professional lives of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, two men who made the technology world what it is today. The movie presents their struggles during college, the humble beginnings of their companies (Microsoft and Apple respectively) and the ingenuity that took them from where they were to where they are now.
Both Gates and Jobs started their companies with very little investment, but tons of passion for what they were interested in- Computers. The movie is a good watch for many different types of audience- entrepreneurship, information technology, innovation, engineering, computers, new product development etc. What is even more remarkable is that because of the global stature of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, this movie can be used in classrooms around the world. I used it when I taught at Institute of Management Technology (India), and the students loved it. I regularly use it in my teaching in the U.S. where, of course, students know these two men, their businesses, and the context in which the movie is set in much more than people in other parts of the world.
The People versus Larry Flynt (1996) is an entrepreneurship movie, but it not a movie for everybody. This movie is the story of Larry Flynt, an ambitious, hard-working, driven self-made entrepreneur. He (with his wife and brother) started publishing a girlie magazine that challenged society’s moral values. This magazine- Hustler- becomes the success story the Flynts were dreaming of. Even though he has to fight numerous legal battles with people who were opposed to his business, he was able to assert his constitutional right to continue publishing his magazine. The movie is a fictional account of the life of a real-world financially successfully entrepreneur.
Because the movie is about an entrepreneur who acheived his success in the pornographic publishing industry, it is full of nudity and sex. Despite doing a great job of presenting the struggle between an upstart entrepreneur and the establishment, this is not a movie you can watch with your family or relatives. I personally think the movie could have presented Larry Flynt’s story without so many nude and explicit scenes.
The U.S. (as well as many other countries around the world) have many entrepreneurs like Larry Flynt (Hugh Hefner, Joe Francis etc.) whose success comes from exploring the dark side of the business world. The stories of these entrepreneurs as well as the fascination with them in the media and the public make them great examples to discuss the ethical side of entrepreneurship.
I enjoyed the entrepreneurial theme of the movie, but had a very tough time making a positive decision to include it in my entrepreneurship course as one of the choices (and I tell them about the nudity and explicit scenes so they can make an informed decision). I am curious to see what my students think about it.