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THIS CHARTS THE SPECTACULAR RISE OF THE CORPORATION AS A DRAMATIC, PERVASIVE PRESENCE IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES. FEATURES ILLUMINATING INTERVIEWS WITH NOAM CHOMSKY, MICHAEL MOORE, HISTORIAN HOWARD ZINN ... AS WELL AS CORPORATE HONCHOS, WHISTLEBLOWERS & BIG BUSINESS SPIES.
An epic in length and breadth, this documentary aims at nothing less than a full-scale portrait of the most dominant institution on the planet Earth in our lifetime--a phenomenon all the more remarkable, if not downright frightening, when you consider that the corporation as we know it has been around for only about 150 years. It used to be that corporations were, by definition, short-lived and finite in agenda. If a town needed a bridge built, a corporation was set up to finance and complete the project; when the bridge was an accomplished fact, the corporation ceased to be. Then came the 19th-century robber barons, and the courts were prevailed upon to define corporations not as get-the-job-done mechanisms but as persons under the 14th Amendment with full civil rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (i.e., power and profit)--ad infinitum.
The Corporation defines this endlessly mutating life-form in exhaustive detail, measuring the many ways it has not only come to dominate but to deform our reality. The movie performs a running psychoanalysis of this entity with the characteristics of a prototypical psychopath: a callous unconcern for the feelings and safety of others, an incapacity to experience guilt, an ingrained habit of lying for profit, etc. We are swept away on a demented odyssey through an altered cosmos, in which artificial chemicals are created for profit and incidentally contribute to a cancer epidemic; in which the folks who brought us Agent Orange devise a milk-increasing drug for a world in which there is already a glut of milk; in which an American computer company leased its systems to the Nazis--and serviced them on a monthly basis--so that the Holocaust could go forward as an orderly process.
The movie goes on too long, circles too many points obsessively and redundantly, and risks preaching-to-the-choir reductiveness by calling on the usual talking-head suspects--Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Moore. And except for an endlessly receding tracking shot in an infinite patents archive, there's scarcely an image worth recalling. Still, it maps the new reality. This is our world--welcome to it. --Richard T. JamesonSee all Editorial Reviews
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The interview with Lucy Hughes, Vice President of Initiative Media, is truly disturbing. This woman proudly relates how the advertising industry studies how to encourage children to nag their parents more effectively to buy products. She also brags about manipulating consumers into "wanting" things and capturing children as young as possible so they will be lifelong consumers.
I was reminded in watching this film of something I've written about the measure of value in a society. Since many of us work for corporations, we can test the truths this film tells in our own way. Listen, for example, to how people speak when they're under the influence of the corporate machine. At my office, most of these folks are young, assertive, confident, and rapid in speech and manner. Many of them, to judge by their position, language, and demeanor, are most likely MBA's, or the equivalent. I have heard the word "value" a lot, in terms like "value proposition" and "value exchange." I wondered whether these folks had really thought about value--what it is, or that there may be more to value than goods, services, or profit derived therefrom.
But corporations cannot learn this, for in spite of what the law may say, they are not people (this is one of the principal themes of the film). But the real, individual people who work for the corporations and use their products and services, we can learn it and in turn teach it to the "corporate person". We can show them what a person truly is, and what it is that a person values.
Dr. Matthew J. Loop
- Author of "Cracking the Cancer Code"