25 November 2018
Documentary EC The Corporation
Our daily lives are so dominated by corporations that we sometimes fail to notice it. Many goods, services, information and entertainment now flow from huge multinationals. The Corporation explores a disturbing possibility with a mix of humor, opinion and hard facts. It takes us through the visible personality traits of these business entities and shows us that, for all intents and purposes, corporations are chaotic. The film points out that this is not an aberrant state for corporations, but rather an inherent part of their nature. It portrays high ranking business executives as people so caught up in the madness of the business world. They must act not from their own conscience, but rather from a mentality of what is most profitable.
One of the major themes of the film is the damage done to the environment by large business corporations. Commercial profitability is their primary motive, many large corporations neglect to address the negative impact on the environment. For instance, many paper mills in the U.S.A dump toxic effluents from their processing plants into a nearby stream or river. This causes irreparable damage to the local ecosystem and also increasing risk towards human beings. Other criticism against corporations is their tendency to exploit cheap labor in Third World regions or countries. An example of this is the wages paid to workers of Nike in Indonesia. These workers get less than one percent of the marked price of the goods they manufacture. Another case is that of Monsanto Corporation, which introduced into the market a hormone injection which proved unsafe for both animals and humans during the testing stage. Health Canada had banned the injection in Canada, a move that was repeated in many European countries as well. The United States was the only place where the injection was allowed to enter the markets. This eventually caused much suffering for animals and put the safety and wellbeing of consumers at risk. In the Monsanto case, the Fox News network refused to broadcast an investigative story about the company fearing loss in advertisement revenue.
Another important theme covered in the documentary is the psychological assessment of a corporation’s traits, since they are given legal rights and privileges just like citizens. The conclusion drawn by this is quite astounding. It was said that the corporation is psychopathic in nature. This psychopathic nature is not inevitable, but was rather devised by corporate lawyers wanting to please their clients and a judiciary that lacked restraint. Noam Chomsky, a noted public person who was interviewed in the film, draws attention to this mistake made by the Supreme Court. In the late nineteenth century it granted corporations all the rights that a human being was entitled to.
Evidence is provided in the documentary from published reports, firsthand accounts of employees, interviews of industry leaders, public intellectuals, and social activists. It can be stated that the documentary was effective in conveying its message in an objective manner without hurting or jeopardizing facts and evidence. The films central arguments and conclusion are both logically sound and persuasive. What makes the film even more convincing is the fact that people from fields as diverse as the academia and the industry are interviewed, which could have constituted bias on part of the film makers. The Corporation makes an argument that the big business’s are taking over from actual government. The corporation is treated as a legal person, its behavior measured against a checklist. Environmental impact, human rights violations, child labor, and manipulative marketing are just a few examples. The movie exposes many unheard of chemicals in everyday food, water, air, and how corporations exploit human suffering. It has countless interviews with corporate C.E.O.s, documentary producers, factory workers, and others. As the movie progresses through the checklist there is increasing evidence of the corporation as psychopath. From Monsanto, which makes toxic chemicals for such companies as Liz Claiborne and Nike, and also exploits cheap labor in poorer countries. The documentary depicts the corporate world as ever present in our lives in ways that are mostly negative. It has a variety of revelations and shifts of content and music that make sure that the viewer stays riveted. It is a one-sided argument with almost no representation from the side of the corporation. It would be interesting to see the individual corporations’ perspectives or to learn about corporations that are doing good. Only one corporate entity, Interface, and a carpet manufacturer are depicted positively for their environmental awareness. It would be more balanced if the movie didn’t force a singular opinion on the viewer and would let him formulate his own opinion. Despite this, I would highly recommend The Corporation as a movie that makes a very powerful argument in a very interesting and persuasive way.
Traits associated to a psychopath include irresponsibility, manipulation, grandioseness, lack of empathy, asocial tendencies, inability to feel remorse, refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions and superficial relations with others. Modern day corporations display every one of the previously listed characteristics. Is it right that an institution, whose power now rivals that of the State that once created it to seek the better welfare of its citizens, display the psychological traits of a dangerous personality disorder?