Friday, August 06, 2004

I finally saw The Corporation, the film which starts from the legal conceit of corporations as "legal persons", and asks, what kind of people are they?

Their answer -- well known at this point to anyone who cares -- is that they're psychopaths. But the value of the film is less in that case, or the making of it, than in the stuff you get to see along the way, from "underground marketing" right around the corner, to inside accounts of corporate espionage from a professional spy, to the enormous riots in the third world over water privatization which have gotten relatively scant coverage in major media.

Besides which, the film's case that CEOs are trapped in a system that literally does not give them the freedom to act according to their own environmental or ethical concerns is somewhat undercut by the frequent appearances of Ray Anderson, CEO of a carpet company who is doing exactly that. A few minutes on how he deals with the profit pressures that the film details elsewhere would have been easily worth the rather sketchy treatment of GATT and the WTO. So, despite the privatization advocate who gushes over the prospect that someday there might be private ownership of every little stream in the Amazaon, people who didn't walk in persuaded probably won't leave that way. (And I'm speaking as someone who was hoping for a better case).

But then again, people who didn't walk in persuaded might still learn something they didn't know. And as a bonus, if they stay to the end (nearly three hours!), they get to hear Michael Moore quoting Lenin. That ought to be worth at least ten minutes of raised eyebrows at the next cocktail party.

On the way out, I looked at a movie poster for "Festival Express", yet another documentary -- this one on a 1970 train tour of Canada by some really good bands. The trailer had featured the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. To which the poster added some other musical heavyweights. The Band. The Flying Burrito Brothers. Buddy Guy. And then -- Sha Na Na. And to think, all I remembered about them was the TV show...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I suspect the movie will repeat what I know, and I suspect it will be tiresome at points. Is it worth seeing?

3:24 PM  
Blogger charles said...

Well, there's probably something in there that you don't already know (for me, the standouts were the industrial spy and Ray Anderson). And footage of things that I'd only read about (like the Bolivian water-privatization riots) had an impact which the mere words did not. I'd recommend it -- your call.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'll go, unless it's already gone, in which case I'll pretend that one day I'll rent it, and go back to falling asleep while reading to the kids.

12:23 PM  

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