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Google Glass or Not, The Internship Is Unwatchable

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Suppose for a moment that your dreams were a toilet bowl: white, shiny, freshly cleaned. Suppose, further, that a hefty gentleman -- draped in a billowing Google T-shirt and clutching what's left of a Chipotle burrito -- parks an ample rear squarely atop said porcelain throne.

What comes next is not entirely unlike the experience of watching The Internship, especially as someone who writes software for a living and who has actually spent a summer interning at Google.

If I could, I would take back the two hours I spent clawing at my armrest, thinking of all the different brands of paint thinner I'd rather be drinking than watching Vince Vaughn make another joke about C++. But I can't. All I can do is try to save you from making the same mistake that I did.

It's hard to imagine that a company like Google -- founded by a team of engineers so exceptional that many speak of the company's early days in hushed, reverent tones -- can become so completely disconnected from reality that a movie like The Internship is permitted to stumble into existence.

To be clear, The Internship isn't actually a movie so much as a multi-hour Google infomercial that feels so bullshitty you'd think Facebook produced it as part of a brilliant smear campaign. By the numbers, a solid 95 percent of the film takes place in various nooks and crannies of Google's Mountain View office with Google placards, inside jokes, and vacuous buzzwords crammed into every scene and dramatic pause not already occupied by Vince Vaughn's and Owen Wilson's stale comedy.

If the lone casualty of this massive, fiery train wreck was that Google's entire marketing staff would be launched into space, that'd be one thing. Unfortunately, the damage is much graver:

The Internship is a modern-day minstrel jubilee starring an Asian genius who lives in fear of his tiger mom's physical and emotional abuse ("my mother hits harder than you!"), an overtly sexual (yet nonetheless virginal) geek girl who waxes crude to fit in with her male colleagues ("I love to cosplay as slave Leia... with a loose bit of chain around my neck"), the prickish and sweater-laden Indian programmer who snaps at interns before blossoming into the film's enlightened outsider, along with all the overweight fedora-toting white guys you'd need to form a (boffer) army of neckbeards.

Watching The Internship is like finally being able to see how all those douchey business-types that quote TechCrunch and host lunch meetings actually view software engineering professionals. According to the film, Google is less a place of employment than a playpen for socially retarded manchildren: a rare oasis for the nerds and geeks who suddenly find themselves thrust into a real world with a fucked up economy and limited opportunities. Hm, maybe that part isn't too inaccurate, actually.

Rather than acknowledging that ours is a field that endeavors to be meritocratic -- valuing skill, talent, and experience over pomp and presentation -- The Internship reduces tech to a farcical Hunger Games starring hundreds of frantic interns who compete in teams for a shot at five precious Google jobs.

Over the course of the summer, these "engineers" (who in addition to enacting everyone's favorite nerd caricatures channel the full gamut of high school stereotypes) battle it out in a series of disjointed and bizarre challenges. From debugging a two-million-line program in all of an hour, to besting other teams in an alarmingly long Quidditch scene, The Internship manages to do everything except, of course, explain what an engineer actually does.

With all the tact of a gorilla in heat, The Internship paints an incredibly unsettling picture of software engineering as a sort of hodgepodge of sales, Beautiful Mind-esque whiteboard doodling, and tech support. The whole of tech is simmered down to a sludge of buzzwords and an impenetrable shield of autism that only Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson can crack with their witty quips and corny jokes. In a world of socially crippled nerdlings, being a grown man with the ability to socialize makes you a superhero.

Beyond the hurtful stereotypes, the insulting generalizations, and the incessant march of Google product plugs and Kool-Aid chugging, the worst thing about The Internship is that it reduces technology to a deeply unsettling utopian fantasy world that can be unlocked with a few doodles on a whiteboard and a certain amount of quirky charm.

Like Willy Wonka's golden ticket, Google's internship is the key to a life of perpetual youth and effortless happiness: as long as you can code, you'll never need to grow up and you'll never need to work again.