Vox-Nova contributor Blackadder is perturbed by the ways in which fictional portrayals can distort our perception of certain aspects of reality and classes of persons. His points concerning stereotyped portrayals of gun violence on television and in the movies, and portrayals of minorities are well taken. He also suggests that something similar transpires with respect to portrayals of the world of business. There is, however, a difference between the examples. While one can easily imagine the portrayal of licit employments of violence, or sensitive portrayals of minority characters, it is not so easy to imagine interesting portrayals of the virtuous businessman. Blackadder writes:
Or, to take another example. Business and commerce when depicted in fiction tend to be depicted negatively. Businessmen are greedy and unscrupulous, corporations are at the center of all kinds of plots and conspiracies, and trade is often a thin veneer placed over fraud and coercion. It is easy to understand, even apart from the ideological dispositions of artists, why businessmen and large corporations would make desirable villains and why positive depictions of the marketplace might not make for interesting drama. But for people who themselves lack much business instinct and have little direct experience of what goes on in a corporate boardroom, might not such repeated impressions create in their minds a more unfavorable impression of markets than they would gain from actually experiencing such things first hand?In my estimation, the reasons for such portrayals are more or less manifest: the bourgeois order is utilitarian and calculating, and such an ethos is antithetical to even the most rudimentary aesthetic impulses; an order predicated upon the pursuit of material betterment, spurred by the passions, is quite different from art, or even entertainment, the former of which strives to present intuitions and intimations of being, the latter of which to excite us for a time. Relatedly, business, the day-to-day grind of commerce, is often infinitely tedious, unrelated to much that links its participants with any grand cosmic themes. There are two paths out of this thicket of ennui for any writer who wishes to portray such subjects - either the tropes of corruption and scandal, which remain of perennial interest, or the attempted introduction of heroic themes, as in the (quite dreadful) fiction of Ayn Rand, which ends in a quasi-fascist worship of the Great Material Benefactor, a mirror image of the political religions of totalitarianism, as Whittaker Chambers noted in his panning of Atlas Shrugged. Since the latter is so obviously awful, there are fairly sound aesthetic reasons for the concentration upon themes of corruption in portrayals of the world of business. Otherwise, such portrayals would be not so much art or entertainment as exercises in didacticism: Do likewise, and you too might become rich! Some like that sort of thing. Most of us change the channel. Fictional versions of the business world, or the markets, generally speaking, must be either boring, if they are exercises in capitalist realism, or lurid portrayals of corruption, intrigue, and incipient fascism, in which case we might watch, or read.