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The Corporation

Updated on September 14, 2011

Critique of "The Corporation" (A documentary)

While the Corporation was extremely successful at bringing out its point that corporate mindset is ruining this planet, when one looks at the effect the film has had on shooting down its target, they would have to consider it a failure

While the documentary delves right into the corporate ownership of natural resources—to name one instance—it fails to offer an explanation of how, in some 150 years, did this happen to come about.

Not to take anything away from the films meaning, or importance, but it came off at times like a young child tattling on his playmate, saying, “Look what he did,” without giving any mention to the complacency of those most effected (humanity as a whole). Nor does it spend much time on the people who provide the corporations with cart blanch access to operate like that in the first place, mainly, politicians.

In part I, the film explains state issues charters and how they maintained a tight reign on the corporation. It then goes on to show how the lawyers felt they needed the constraints removed, and had the Supreme Court label them as a “Person.” From there they go on to ask, “Then what kind of a person is the corporation.”

Hold on a minute…It is not a person. It is a group of people who manipulated the law into giving it status as a person so it can slip through legal loopholes. Why this is acceptable today should be the gist of the rest of the movie. This is a record of the case that gave corporations 14th amendment rights.

Landmark Case - Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company

In 1886 the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company was a landmark case that had a major impact on the role of corporations in American society. According to the official case record, Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite simply pronounced before the beginning of argument in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that. "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does." (source) Although the U.S. Constitution does not mention corporations, this statement by Judge Waite began the long history of granting corporations that status of persons, along with all the accompanying powers and protections, such as freedom of speech. This case, based on a dispute over a railbed route, would change the course of American history. (Landmark Case)

So basically, the court didn’t want to deal with the case, so they left it open to interpretation. This created the “Externalizing” monster it is today. Through tactics and actions such as; Layoffs, union busting, and sweatshops, they can cut costs thus raising the profit margin. Corporate concern is only about profit for the stockholders, they are legally bound to be this way (although CEO’s, CFO’s, and other executives slice into the pie as well). If someone gets hurt along the way to profit, so be it. As the film states, “They have no soul to save, nor body to incarcerate.

One of the most bothersome things about the film is the CEO’s. They all seem to be proud of themselves. Ray Anderson, of Interface, describes man trying to fly, and not noticing the earth moving up towards him. He then goes on to describe what corporations are doing, and what we are leaving behind for our grandchildren’s grandchildren as “Intergenerational tyranny.” He states that every life support system on earth is in decline, and he is smiling. One would have to equate that with a psychopathic mind.

Another peeve I had was in Part II, when they referred to the advertising aimed at children. Twelve million dollars a year is spent on advertizing aimed at kids. This is nothing new; everything on television smoked cigarettes and drank when I was a kid, cowboys, cartoons, television doctors. That told us it was good. Now days tobacco companies still get there names to children, but with a different approach. They tell you smoking is bad for you, and then let you know who they are. This reverse psychology works, more kids are smoking now than adults are. Beer companies stop at the suggestion that drinking is bad for you…just drink responsibly, that way the insurance companies will be happy.

What seems to define corporate power at its best is the relation of the “Whistleblower” story in Florida. It did not matter that R.G.B.H was present; the law sided with FOX news and News Corp, and decided that falsifying the news is not against the law.

Summing it up in part III, it was no surprise that J.P.Morgan, DuPont, and Good Year tried to smear President Roosevelt in the 30’s, look at what they are trying to do to Obama now. Wasn’t it J.P Morgan who amassed his fortune by buying broken guns from the government, then selling them back to the Union Army during the Civil War?

The film, as I stated, had great merit, but too much space between crucial points. The same message could have been related in a lot less time, but, it too, was probably sponsored by some corporation that wanted to get its own message subliminally placed in there.

Michael Moore drives home the final point showing the hypocrisy of the corporations by letting him come on their networks, and pay him for it. He has a great point in stating that coming from an autoworker family, how much of an impact that has on the state of the polar ice caps to this day. The statement shows the complacency of the average citizen back when he was growing up. We have come a little way since then, one would have to believe we are coming further each year, the question is, are we too late?

As we sit, wherever we are sitting, right now, there is some organism, we have never even heard of existing; that is the last of its kind, on the verge of extinction at our hands. As we breathe, there is another animal choking on the same air; because it is poisoned. And as we wonder about truths in the society we live in, there is quite possibly some moron from the media thinking that there is a story behind di-hydrogen monoxide in our atmosphere during a storm.

Nancy Zennerpeck summed it up best at the end of the movie when she said, “We have to start thinking of ourselves as a part of the natural world; not apart from it.” These are words that should be taken serious, as they should have been taken in 1836, when Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote them in his essay “Nature.”

The Corporation:


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