February 15, 2004

The Corporation

This movie is a documentary describing the birth, evolution and impact of large-scale global corporations on the rest of humanity and ecology.

It uses a compelling style that intercuts interviews from people with many different points of view with commercials, cartoons and news stories from various periods over time.

Interviewees include Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, and a host of academicians, activists, lawyers and CEOs. The resulting effect is a kind of kaleidoscope of viewpoints, philosophies, and cultural backgrounds, which provide excellent context.

For me, one of the most significant points made by "The Corporation" is that, while a Corporation is considered to have the same legal rights as a person - it is recognized as a separate legal entity - the actions of many corporations are consistent with psychopathic behaviour. Symptoms include disregard for impacts of actions on others, lack of remorse and personal responsibility, lying and deceitful behaviour, and various forms of callous manipulation. The "personality" of global corporations are analyzed in this light, as are the humans who, in actuality, are responsible for their psychopathic characteristics.

Should corporations have the right to control natural resources, or basic necessities like water supplies? Should they have the right to operate beyond the reach of governments or to play influential roles in social services, or to attempt to manufacture our consent (to paraphrase Noam Chomsky) - to attempt to manipulate us from the cradle to the grave? Should they have the right to own patents on human or animal DNA and claim it as their own intellectual property?

In response to these disturbing questions, you also see examples of activism and man-in-the-street reactions. Bolivian people taking back their water supply infrastructure, or Indian farmers disobeying the law by keeping the seeds from their wheat crops.

The Corporation gives few resolutions to the huge dilemmas presented, and thus, offers lots of opportunities for further discussion after the movie on the drive home.

It's also one of the few documentaries I've watched which received a spontaneous round of applause from the audience at the end. I was clapping. We all were.

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