Nowadays, people all over the world talk about democracy, freedom, and equality of rights
They ask the questions if the democracy will struggle on or who/what has control over society today. All people use products of such powerful corporations as Nike, McDonalds, IBM, and others. Certainly, people believe that these companies provide them with necessary quality wares, since everyone enjoys them and continues using and buying new things. However, it is debatable whether people know the real power and influence which these corporations wield. People who are really interested in both economic justice and participatory democracy have been analogizing corporate power for a long time (Thomas). Growing power of corporations worries and frightens, because people have too little information about these monsters (Truitt). The Corporation (2003), a documentary film that was directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, discusses one of the most vital questions of humanity: the proper role of business in society. It explores origins, development, and present state of the most familiar corporations in the U.S.A. The authors analyze the legal, social, economic, and political standing of corporations on the ground of historical events and interviews with different business, academic, and political leaders and compare and contrast their point of views.
The Corporation is Canadian provocative documentary screen version of the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan, the Professor of Law in the University of British Columbia. This informative and often even shocking film deals with fundamental questions of influence of the corporate structure on public goods, people’s life, health, and wealth in market-based societies (James). The film raises actual questions which should open human eyes and provoke thinking of better ways to organize economic relationship and take care of environment at the same time. The filmmaking team presents this movie in an unusual interesting way, demonstrating short real stories, holding interviews, comparing, and providing examples that prove their opinion. The movie comes with the views of different experts of various fields such as Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, Michel Moore, and Dr Vandana Shiva.
The Corporation provides quite a food for thought
Few people think about where they work, who controls their work by, by what they make their living, and what harm they do herewith. The concept of the corporation is taught in all business schools, but people do not criticize the amorality of greedy corporations, and falling for an advertisement helps the latters not only to exist but also develop and absorb people’s minds and freedom. The film demonstrates the viewer how corporations have shaped today’s culture, and it encourages people to make whatever to bring back the society and the world to its own hands. Certainly, only the government can do something fundamental, and people all over the world must try to struggle with this “shark” too.
The corporation as an economic and social subject has been developing for the last 200 years. A century ago, corporations were not so influential and important (Drucker 130-170). Nowadays, they have a great force and “exercise greater power than any other type of organization in America”. They “create and fund research and advocacy organizations that shape the direction of public policy formation” (Burris). The corporation evolves from small and controlled part of business life to the world-dominating entity. In proof of directors’ statement, they treat corporations as separate individuals who are legal entities and have, as persons, more rights and greater power but less accountability than an actual human person. If a human commits a crime, he/she will be locked up. However, one cannot imprison a corporation, and it will only pay a fine but will continue doing something illegal.
The Corporation lasts for three hours
The documentary is divided into three parts. In the first part, the authors of the film tell a viewer how the corporations received globally more power than the governments. The movie starts with narrative about the formation and development of corporations, their ideas, purposes, and functions. It is total analysis of different specifications of corporations. The authors prove that according to the World Health Organization, if The Corporation was a person, it would be defined as a psychopath.
The second part of the film consists of the facts of the great impact which the corporations have on the people’s life today. It is shameful and sorrowful to realize that money is the reason for human misfortune and natural catastrophes. The ethical values depreciate. Natural resources are being privatized. People became slaves who are amenable of manipulation by the affluent corporations, and now they are perceived as a source of revenue. Then the film talks about the imminence of money relations among everybody and everything. Everything can be bought and sold, everything is commercialized. The general moral values are discredited. It is hard to understand such tendencies. All the natural gifts are the greatest wealth for people, and money and gold cannot be compared with sun, soil, or water, since it is impossible to live on the Earth without them. At the close of the documentary, Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott discuss the part of media in the mentioned processes and the capacity of corporate force in the media sphere. It is clear that the advertisement influences people’s thoughts and makes them buy products and services. People see a great deal of advertisement every day, and it is already well-known way of manipulation. There are many psychologists working for big corporations, they know people’s weak spots, and they have plenty of tricks to learn people’s desires and needs to make people buy things. They use children for their advertisement to call belief to their products. They tell lies such as “The part of benefit will be subscribed to the homeless children”. The corporations turned people into crazy consumers, they pervert people’s minds with illusions, and form human’s conscience. They advertise and sell brands that are famous and popular all over the world, and, therefore, the corporations spring the globalization idea into life (Pieterse).
The third part gives plenty of examples of the local people’s revenge. Then the filmmaking team raises a question of civil responsibility of corporations. They also suppose that the corporation activity must be controlled by the government and society. There are many ways to struggle with corporations: demonstrations, strikes, and maybe even such documentaries. It is hard to understand their power, but people must oppose it effectively. It seems rather possible that people’s final aim is to create a clean and healthy organization that will not to do harm and pollute environment (Osborne).
As the corporation is presented as human being, the authors show a viewer that everything that a corporation is doing wrong is harming real people. The film shows that according to analysis, a corporation has all the features of a person-psychopath. Just like a psychopath, corporations are “callous disregard for the feelings of other people,” possess “the incapability to maintain human relationships,” “reckless disregard for the safety of others,” “deceitfulness,” “incapability to experience guilt,” and “failure to conform to social norms and respect for the law.” It is proved with certain examples, so, it is doubtless.
The corporations today enjoy too much authority. The government has not retained its grip on the corporations. Political systems today are controlled by magnates, since capitalism raised very high and changed policy and politics. However, people cannot believe corporations. Indeed, they enjoy an access to all political resources. It is dangerous, because the corporations are ruled only with money. Although nowadays the government and industry work well with each other, the situation can be changed in the future.
Some facts that are demonstrated in this movie may be rather shocking to a viewer
As it turns out in the course of the movie, during World War II, Fanta was sold to Germany under Nazi regime, and IBM was engaged in delivering their machines to provide Nazis with more comfortable working conditions in concentration camps and help them watch their prisoners more effectively. In fact, an IBM-worker came and established the machine in the buildings of the concentration camps for enemies with such cruel aims. Testing of Prosilac on cows attends viewer’s attention heavier, because it concerns all people and especially children who eat milk products (Lee 200-202).
The film involves plenty of metaphors and comparisons of corporations with monsters, Frankenstein, a plane. It helps a viewer to imagine bad influence and after-effects of corporations and underlines their only aim – the thirst to profit. They exploit labor, use poisonous unhealthy chemicals, spoil environment, and deceive people in order to receive benefit. They are indifferent to anything else, and it frightens. The corporations do harm to people, animals, and biosphere. This will certainly lead to disastrous consequences, for the biosphere feeds people’s life, and nowadays, people use the future generation’s recourses. The terrible world of consumers annihilates the Earth. Pierre Pettinger, the Minister of Trade in Canada, said, “It was extraordinary progress over the last 15 years. Now we see the benefits of trade, more and more people want to buy in. Because we do realized that it helps everyone from the poorer to the better off, so… a lot of these countries are not saying they want to get off, they want to get on. Exactly, no one wants out, everyone wants in.”
The movie’s directors often use irony in The Corporation, as one of the efficient ways to attract viewer’s attention more and to underline the truth. For the first time, they used ironies to demonstrate that profit-making and top-priority for corporations are more important and public good or environmental protection. The irony is used in a case when Tom Kline, who is Senior Vice-President of Pfizer Inc., presents the defective “talk-back box” by the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporation (The Corporation). As video demonstrates, Pfizer tries to make the community better and help people to avoid a crime. However, when he pushes the call button to show the function of the talk-back box, nobody replies to him. It proves that Pfizer does not put enough effort into the system that brings good to the public. They want to advertise themselves and their company although this advertisement lowers company’s confidence, because the people may suggest that their company works like this “talk-back box”. There is yet another good example of irony in the documentary. Carlton Brown, Commodities Trader, says in his interview: “When the September 11th situation happened, [...] the first thing you thought about was well how much is gold up? The first thing that came to mind was my God gold must be exploding!” (The Corporation) It proves an indifference of corporations to the common weal and their profit objective only. The corporations are not concerned about public in any way. Nevertheless, the most interesting irony is the reaction of the founder and CEO of Nike Inc. When Michael Moore invites him to visit his factories in Indonesia, Phil Knight refuses. It is strange that he has never been to his factories in Indonesia. The filmmakers used irony here to degrade the authority of Nike and to demonstrate that this company does not pay attention to his workers and their working conditions. This example shows once more that they are not focused on the fair trading. It is ironic but sad.
The priority of humanity nowadays is the environment, health care, social justice, and poverty alleviation. It is important to understand the role of the corporation in the conditions of world’s global society. Corporations define the standards of employment, product quality, and environmental impact of the production process. It should be pointed out here that the directors do not demand the abolishment of the corporation or capitalism. Indeed, the corporation became an integral part of the contemporary society. What the authors suggest is rather control of all the corporate actions. This film tries to motivate people to become involved in the fight to save the situation. Theoretical basis of the movie consists of a range of exact data and statistics, which gives the audience an opportunity to make their own conclusions concerning the problem.
The film presents clear views of mega corporations: McDonald’s Coca-Cola, and IBM. Nike Michael Moore , Naomi Klein , Milton Friedman, and Noam Chomsky show true appearance of corporations and their influence on people. The Corporation makes people think and imagine possible consequences of the corporation and explains that they are inevitable part of people’s life today. The film explores an important and actual problem. One must know this and think of this, because everybody is responsible for the future. One must take care about one’s own future and future of one’s children.
Therefore, the unlimited growth of global corporate power will lead to economic dependence and environmental and social decline. To avoid these consequences, one must think about this now and eliminate corporation’s danger. One must make common cause, sustaining and saving one’s economy, society, and ecology. It is needless to say that a healthy society requires more than greed and self-interest to encourage itself (Thayer).
The Corporation was nominated for numerous awards and won the World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and Special Jury Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2003 and 2004. The Corporation is a coolheaded movie with educational and thoughtful context which a viewer watches with a divided mind. On the one hand, the film tells one much of what one already knows. On the other hand, one may think it would be better not to acknowledge it, because it may seem too depressing. The Corporation is shot with humor, and it consists of interesting useful information that eases the present life situation to a certain extent, though the main topic of the film remains depressing. In any case, this film is worth watching, and it is hard to believe that one may remain indifferent or bored with it.