Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Corporation

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Tense and difficult topics, graphic image of injuries
Diversity Issues:Oppression of third world communities
Movie Release Date:2004

This documentary from writer Joel Bakan and directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott argues that “today’s dominant institution” is not government or the church but the corporation. While Michael Moore participates and provides some of the film’s liveliest moments, the film mostly presents its evidence without Moore’s brand of incendiary brash insouciance, and is even more chilling for doing so. Instead of Moore’s snarky saracasm a calm, almost robotic female voice recites the narration as though it is asking you to please hang up and dial again. The feeling is of a world vacated by any human qualities.

The film-makers let the participants tell the story. A Wall Street trader explains that while the terrorist attacks on September 11 were very sad, his fellow traders’ first thought was how it would affect the price of gold. Then he reassures us that his clients did fine, because he correctly predicted that gold would go up. “In devastation there is opportunity,” he explains. The head of a firm that advertises toys and candy to children is paid to figure out ways not just to persuade children to want the products but to encourage children to nag their parents to get them. When asked whether this is ethical, she does not seem to understand the term.

Shareholder activist Robert Monks quotes Lord Thurlow: “Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?”

Our laws have declared a corporation to be a legal “person” when it comes to rights, but not a person when it comes to limits, except for limiting its liability for harm that it inflicts. It is not subject to the most universal and permanent limitation that applies to humans because unlike a person, a corporation lives forever. The combination of perpetual life, imperviousness to punishment, and a legal and cultural commitment to creating shareholder wealth as its sole obligation have created an entity that, according to Monks, is like a shark. It maximizes its profits by “externalizing” all of its costs.

The film-makers have organized their critique around the criteria for diagnosing psychopathology. Their view is that if the corporation is a “person” it’s mental state can be evaluated according to the provisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Compared against that list — inability to maintain long-term relationships, tendency to lie, lack of concern for the impact of its behavior on others — the corporation gets a diagnosis that indicates severe pathology.

Parents should know that the movie is not rated. Its content may be disturbing for some viewers, but it raises very significant questions for discussion with mature children and teenagers, especially about the influence of advertising and the challenges of accountability.

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Michael Moore’s television series The Awful Truth.



Previous Posts

Tusk
You can make a good movie about slackers, for example "Slackers," from Richard Linklater and "Clerks" from Kevin Smith. But you can't make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem wi

posted 5:59:40pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

This is Where I Leave You
A toddler carries his little potty out in front of the house so he can try out his new-found skill in public. Twice. Plus another time when the contents of the potty are first displayed for the

posted 5:59:39pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Maze Runner
Yes, it's another dystopic YA trilogy (actually, there's a fourth volume, a prequel), and yes, only a teenager with fabulous cheekbones can save the day. But "The Maze Runner" is not a lesser repeat. It is a worth addition to the genre, an absorbing drama with surprising turns and even more surprisi

posted 5:59:23pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Art of John Alvin -- Designer of Iconic Movie Posters
Any fan of film history and design will love this magnificent new book devoted to the iconic movie posters and other artwork from John Alvin, assembled and written by his widow, Andrea Alv

posted 8:00:05am Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Guest Post: Tara Sonenshine on "Calvary"
My deepest thanks to Tara Sonenshine for allowing me to publish her thoughtful comments on "Calvary," starring Brendan Gleeson as a troubled priest in a small Irish t

posted 11:19:17pm Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.