The Corporation

I’ve just finished watching the documentary “The Corporation”, directed by Mark Achbar. In case you are not familiar with it, this is a documentary film, over 2 hours and 20 minutes long, that describes how corporations are taking over the world and putting their agendas above public interests. Sounds leftie? It is.

I knew about the film and I wanted to watch it, so when I found it at the video shop I didn’t hesitate and grabbed it. The blurb on the back of the box says something about a timely, critical enquiry about corporations’ inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures. I was a bit disappointed to see that the whole film is completely focused on corporations in the USA. There is no reference whatsoever (let alone reports or studies) regarding corporations from other places in the world. I tend to think that, if corporations are indeed taking over the world and putting their agendas above public interests, USA corporations must be top of the list, given the hyper-liberal, right-wing environment of that country. However, I was expecting Mark Achbar to be a bit more worldly and not so parochial in his treatment of the theme.

Anyway, a couple of pearls from the movie. Some years ago, citizens of California asked the government to revoke the charter of Standard Oil of California because of their repeated offenses against public interests. It didn’t work. During a debate on TV between one of the community leaders asking the revocation and a representative of Standard Oil of California, the latter points out that this company has been part of California’s economy and life for more than a century and that it offers citizens a great amount of jobs. The community leader replies saying that many people in California were very angry with Standard Oil because of what they had done. The executive rebuked with a sneer: “yeah, but the angry people were from the left side of the spectrum, who produce nothing but hot air”. Clever, eh?

Another pearl was given by a young all-American lad who, with his friend, had the following great idea: they publicly offered their image to any corporation that would want to sponsor them to going to uni in exchange for consuming and promoting their products. As the guys said, if you sponsor us, “we will eat your cereal even if we are not hungry”. They were successful, and went to uni sponsored by some large firm. During an interview, one of the kids declared the following: “I have great faith on corporations, because they will always be there so you may as well have faith in them. And if you don’t, that’s not good.” The argument defies any logic, and says lots about what kind of youngsters can be associated with the corporate world in the USA. It would have been ridiculous even from Miss Universe.

Some of the “good guys” in the movie went a bit over the top. Allusions to the current cancer epidemic and claims that in 2025 two thirds of the population will not have access to clean drinking water are more than questionable, at least if you trust Bjorn Lomborg.

Overall, a very interesting doco.


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