This semester I teach graduate industrial organization. And while preparing, it occurred to me that if our stories adapted fast to our changing world, many and perhaps most action stories today would be about industrial organization, i.e., about firms competing over industries. The fact that most action stories today are not about this is a sad commentary on how slowly our stories adapt to our world. Let me explain.
You forgot "Kinky Boots". ;)
Think Steve Ballmer.
It may be that you are mischaracterizing the "industrial era" by focusing on industrial firms. After all, farmer era stories don't tend to focus on the organizational details of grain transport and storage (which vary in both time and space, as do the details of firm competition).
Robert Solow argues that capital accumulation doesn't explain a significant portion of economic growth, and I believe that it was you who identified that modern economic doubling time is comparable to the doubling time of the rate of publication of scientific papers.
If we are really in the "scientific era", then there are certainly possibilities for stories representative of the age. Science Fiction (and potentially Mysteries which achieved prominence even earlier in the age) may in fact represent important foundational norms for the era (http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6.... I'll also point out that such stories do in fact display many of the trappings of the modern era as well, from firm conflicts to ideological contests.
Also, looking from the point of view of social function, there are a large number of scientists and engineers who say they were inspired to enter their fields due to reading science fiction in their youth. So if stories have the purpose of propagating the cultural ideals of the era, then Science Fiction is certainly filling that role.
Now admittedly, Science Fiction as defined by esr above is not particularly common in mainstream entertainment and I don't think there are any such stories that have reached the level of folk myths. So, to an extent one probably needs to agree with you that the process of story formation is slow, and this early in our current era such stories have not yet been well established. But if you are going to argue that they are absent at a culturally relevant level, then I think it would be helpful for you to make an argument that the details of firm competition are significantly fundamental to the modern era compared to other possible options.
Just about a firm, but a lot of talk about hiring practices, equity distribution, etc.
Christian Grey is a rich businessman. And millionaire dating websites are the only kind where women are more likely to message men. Looks like industry-era adaptation to me.
If you're going to complain that women are attracted to powerful men, shouldn't you also complain that men are attracted to women who are young, have a favorable waist-to-hip ratio, have symmetrical faces, etc.? All these factors are less controllable than your status in society, and many women have body image issues due to their inability to control them. (Also, they've changed less with industrial society.) If you're socially awkward, stop watching porn: http://yourbrainonporn.com
When you mention "the great conflicts the shape our world" competition between firms does come to mind, but the other obvious answer is political competition, and the competition to shape public opinion.
Kurosawa's "High and Low" is about a failed LBO (among other things).
Such stories are boring in the real world. Why invest in a stylized for-sale media product of such a story? The whole idea is simply boring.
---Managers duke it out for a larger slice of exurbia and a new car to fullfill their empty lives! Meanwhile Kate the intern loses her promised internship due to restructuring! The horror, she's a bad person for not working hard enough!!! Her life is ruined! Rated PG so we can continue to propagandize to little kids about corporate america's empty persuits! Catch it this fall on Disney!---
Most industries in the USA are dominited by one to three corporate firms who aren't allowed to lose. Too big too fail and all that. It's the fact that they aren't allowed to lose and their CEOs publically humiliated or put to death for ripping off millions of people (in fact during the last financial crisis these CEOs were made out to be heros for losing!) that guarantees such a story to be boring. Battles needs winners and losers, not just protected classes who aren't allowed to lose.
How is Moby Dick is about competition between firms? (Just to take one.)
Really, there are a lot of good examples. The Social Network. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Ghostbusters. Moby Dick. Limitless. Primer...
Try the 100 foot journey.
Corporations are amoral
I wouldn't say they're amoral, exactly. They are organized around a proportionality system of values (per Alan P. Fiske's theory). The most moving values are related to communal sharing (love, etc.) and, next highest but considerably less so, to hierarchy. Proportionality values are inherently less moving. [See "The habit theory of morality, moral influence, and moral evolution" for discussion of Fiske and cites. -- http://juridicalcoherence.b... ]
[Robin writes, "Most tales of nations in conflict are no more naturally turnable into morality tales than are most tales of firms in conflict," but this is just his claim, not evidence or argument.]
The linked textbooks on your class page are all invalid links.
Romance novels seem to show that women love stories about dominant men in hierarchical societies, even in preindustrial ones (the Outlander novels,for example). Why haven't women's fantasy lives adapted to the reality of ordinary men in egalitarian democracies?
I guess we need more public humiliation of losing firm players then?
A Hobbesian world where failure means death is full of interest to audiences. A corporate world where failure means your stock options expire out of the money is less inherently exciting.
The threat of public humiliation adds interest, so there are numerous movies about show business, such as "Birdman."