Michael Gary Scott:

A Tragically Comedic Character

About Michael Scott

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Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) was the branch manager at the Scranton, PA branch of Mifflin Paper for the first 7 seasons of the American “mockumentary” style show. Scott was born in Scranton in 1962 and continued to live there until his move to Colorado in the shows 7th season. Prior to becoming the Branch Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, Scott was a salesman at the branch for many years.

 

In season 5, Michael leaves Dunder Mifflin to start his own paper company: Michael Scott Paper Company. His company is eventually bought out by Dunder Mifflin and Scott returns to the company. 

 

While Michael Scott was a skilled salesman, his life was actually quite tragic and lonely. Throughout the first few seasons, Michael is constantly struggling with his love life—whether it was when he was single, dating Jan, or hopelessly in love with Holly when she was with someone else.

 

When Tragedy Meets Comedy and Comedy Meets Ethnocentrism 

We first became interested in Michael Scott when we realized his parallels to the character Wall-e. In the Pixar film, Wall-e is a comedic character within a tragic environment and we quickly realized that Michael Scott is the opposite, a tragic character within a comedic environment. A lot of people love Michael Scott and relate to some of his more tragic elements, so we decided to focus in on him for this project. It was also interesting how he tries so hard to be a comedic character (often using stereotypes to make jokes), but he falls short almost every time. 

This project analyzes the character of Michael Scott from a rhetorical standpoint. We will use tragedy and comedy as well as ethnocentrism as a lens for this analysis. While The Office has an overall comedic tone, Scott shows some key tragic components. 

Michael Scott's  ethnocentric beliefs are evident in a number of episodes, including Diversity Day, Diwali, and Gay Witch Hunt. He often pushes these racist, ethnocentric, and sometimes homophobic beliefs in a way that can be seen as comedic because of the overall tone of the show. Oftentimes, he does not even realize what he is saying is offensive, however, if Scott's character were real, he likely would have been fired in Season 1 (or before filming even began). 

The pages of this website give an in-depth analysis of Michel Scott's character, from his journey as a tragically comedic character to his constant ethnocentric/ culture-centric ideals. This project also delves into the real live implications of the portrayal of these stereotypes on television. 

Research Question 

How do tragedy, comedy, and ethnocentrism play a role in the portrayal of the character of Michael Scott?  

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Creators of this Project: 

This website is the final project for COM 321: Popular Culture at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2019 semester.

The creators of this project are listed below.