First movie review: The Corporation

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Cover art

Today I’m writing my first movie review for “The Corporation.” There’s no significance in the choice of this movie other than that I most recently watched it, and that’s as good a starting point as any. The movie is a critical examination of the behavior of corporations. It examines the origins of corporations and the Supreme Court case that granted them legal personhood and the various rights under the constitution that entails, and then runs down a checklist of behaviors to determine that they are psychopathic “people.” Examples demonstrate that corporations typically act with no regard for the law, are habitually deceitful, have no concern for the welfare of others, do not feel remorse, etc.

The bulk of the film consists of stories of some act of corporate misdoing, like the 1933 Business Plot against FDR, riots in reaction to Bechtel attempting to privatize the water supply of Bolivia, and suppression of an investigative report about bovine growth hormone in milk. While these are all interesting the film feels long and sometimes ponderous, as if the same points could have been made in about 45 fewer minutes. Sad to say it’s not particularly profound, and anyone with an interest in economics and history will know much of what the movie has to say already.

I did enjoy the treatment of “economic externalities,” which is a subject that fits well with this blog. An external cost is one imposed by a corporation on others who are not willing participants. An example would be a paper mill that pollutes a river with effluent, imposing a heavy cost on the community and the environment. This is an example of how many elements of capitalism rely on theft by another name. It makes no sense to allow owners of a corporation to enrich themselves by ruining public resources.

I did appreciate the parting message of the film, which was a challenge to the viewer to do something in reaction to what they have seen. If we shrug and do nothing then those who greedily steal from the rest of us will continue and increase their theft.

About American Socialist

History major turned engineer
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