Table Guardian — Short Film Analysis
The short film chosen from the Responsible Project is called the Table Guardian and was originally posted on February 14, 2008 (The Responsibility Project, 2008). The short film was produced by a company known as RSA who were retained to produce a series of short films that are focused on personal responsibility and Table Guardians was one of the first films the company produced for Liberty Mutual ( Liberty Mutual via Business Wire News Releases, 2008). The setting for the film takes place in an urban coffee shop that is bustling with morning activity.
The film centers on Michael who is pictured sitting at a coffee house with his laptop and personal materials, while looks busy doing some kind of work. Shortly after this character is introduced, Michael asks a woman who is sitting at a nearby table to watch his laptop and save his table while he runs to make copies. The the responsibility however after a bit of persuasion from Michael she eventually gives in.
Michael tells her that he will be back in 10 minutes, 12 minutes tops. However, ten minutes go by and Michael has not returned to the coffee shops. The lady continues to watch his things and steadily grows more and more impatient. After an hour of waiting for Michael to come back, the lady negotiates a deal in which someone else agrees to watch his things because in exchange for getting her table in the busy coffee shop.
The stranger agrees to watch Michael’s things despite the fact she did not know who he was. Eventually this person also strikes a bargain with a new guardian for the arrangement. The film continues to show a series of different people looking out for Michael’s things while he was gone. When he finally returns to the coffee shop and to his things and elderly lady is in charge of his possessions. The lady currently looking after his things is hesitant in believing that the laptop belonged to him. He tries to convince her that he just stepped out to go to the copy center and asked someone to watch his things. She asked for his I.D. To prove that he is who he says he is. He also shows a picture of himself in the laptop to prove that he is the same person. After , the lady finally believes him and gives him his laptop.
There are different perspectives in which the film can be viewed from. However, the underlying theme is the level of personal responsibility that individuals naturally give to others in society. One ethical model that can be considered to explain this phenomenon is the deontology theory. This model uses a on individuals’ adherence to the rules and social norms. In the deontology model the act of doing “good” is done because it is the right thing to do, not for any kind of external reward.
The issue in this film portrays are series of people who made sure a strangers stuff was safe even if they do not know who he is or would get in some kind of trouble if they did not accept the responsibility. As opposed to needing any kind of external motivation, the individuals simply accepted the task because it was the right thing to do. In an organization it is common to have to rely on your team on a certain level just to be able to function. However, most people are overly paranoid about the level of trust that can be granted any group. Although bad things may happen from time to time, in general people are worthy of trust and will go well out of their way to help their neighbor.
Liberty Mutual via Business Wire News Releases. (2008, April 28). RSA Films Joins Liberty Mutual’s “The Responsibility Project” to for Online Community. Retrieved from Boston.com: http://finance.boston.com/boston/news/read?GUID=5245655
The Responsibility Project. (2008, February 14). Table Guardians. Retrieved from Liberty Mutual – The Resposnsibility Project: http://responsibility-project.libertymutual.com/films/table-guardians
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