Product name: The Corporation
Reviewer: Jonathan Davis
Price: $14.95 (DVD)
Review by Jonathan Davis
The framework of this Canadian documentary made in 2003 is built on one simple but ingenious question: if corporations have the same legal status as a living human, what kind of person would it be?
Sounds simple, but the amount of subject matter used to explain why corporations meet all of the key criteria of a sociopath could easily have been the basis of ten feature films.
The Corporation explores the very motivations of corporate behavior as well as the real world consequences. From the attempted corporate takeover of our water, food and the actual building blocks of life itself to the influence corporate media has on what information we do and don’t see. From child labour in third world countries to marketing companies in the developed world exploiting weaknesses in child brain development to sell more products, the film seems to leave no stone unturned.
Candid interviews with CEO’s and executives allow us a window into the justifications for corporate behavior. At times, they are so convincing that had they not been followed up by damning evidence to the contrary, audiences would have been left thinking they aren’t such bad guys after all. In fact on several occasions it’s made clear that these CEO’s indeed aren’t necessarily the bad guys; more likely just like the rest of us, but working within a structure that lacks a moral compass.
Overall the film criticises the recent move towards voluntary social responsibility, siting that experts representing the people should be making decisions on what is good for the people, not the corporations who are legally bound to increase shareholder profit above all else.
The idea that corporations have become in no way answerable to the people their actions effect, is in many ways the very essence of the film. It doesn’t take long to swallow the idea that the corporation is indeed a sociopath, but in the end the film asks a deeper question.
Do we actually live in a democracy anymore, or is our democracy Ltd.?