Take a deep breath after this one …
“The Corporation” is the sort of documentary that will make you downright angry about everything that is American culture – if you let it. After taking in this 145-minute movie on the evolution of incorporated business practices, you’ll be ready to boycott anything with a brand name, including the car you drive, the clothes you wear and the paper you’re reading. But that’s where you have to step back and take a deep breath, which is something this movie does not do. It’s just one, long assault on the senses about everything that is inherently evil about corporate charters and what they have evolved into since they were first created in the middle of the 19th century.
At times, it got really old. Everybody knows that most of the merchandise in the local big box stores have a sordid history of sweat shops and forced labor to keep prices down. Some of the biggest corporations have stopped the practices, some haven’t, and others are working on it. It’s not news. I watched documentaries like this in 1993 when I was a sophomore in college, and I spent most of this incarnation on the subject wondering if they had anything new to say on how to fix the problem, and they really didn’t. The directors just go on and on and on about what was wrong with the world.
There are a few moments of revelation, like when the CEO of the largest carpet manufacturer in the world explains his sudden understanding that his company is destroying the planet and sets about making precedent-setting changes to make his company more ecologically sustainable. And then there’s the story of how a South American community won back its water rights after they had been usurped by a Southern California corporation bent on making a profit. By then, though, the movie had proven to be an immense package of bitterness too hard to digest. This movie will anger you. If it doesn’t get a rise from you because it shows corporate greed is ruining the planet, it will send steam through your ears because it’s so deliberately liberal and it will offend your sense that capitalism is a great thing.
(Not that I advocate the idea that, if left unchecked, corporations will eventually own everything, from the water we drink to the air we breathe to the nuclear structure of our bodies – all of which is carefully explained in this flick.) Just the same, I’m giving it four stars. People need to be pissed off occasionally. It helps keep the world in check. Richard Chittick can be found curled up in a corner having an identity crisis after eating the McDonald’s Big Mac he bought while shopping at Wal-Mart.
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