The Corporation (PG)

Written by Joel Bakan and Harold Crooks, Directed by Jennifer Abbot
On general release from 5th November 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

There are so many anti-corporate documentaries flying around at the moment it's becoming difficult to know just which sweatshop-safe t-shirt, sustainable forest poster or non-toxic action figure set to buy. Do I go for the (largely futile) Bush-bashing of Fahrenheit 9-11, the tongue-in-cheek McDiet investigation of Supersize Me, or the po-faced doom-mongering of The Corporation. Actually, I think I'll go for the po-faced doom-mongering please.

Apparently, the same amendment to the US Constitution that granted 'freedom' (read wage-slavery) to the slaves also defined corporations as 'persons' rather than things, meaning they have the same rights - on paper at least - as actual flesh and blood people. But what kind of ‘people’ are corporations? In the entirely defensible judgement of the filmmakers, businesses behave like psychopaths, single-mindedly focussing on their own desires without worrying about common sense morality or causing harm to those around them. From this starting-point, we are told a number of sad but true tales about corporate immorality in the pursuit of profit. For example, did you know that Fanta was created so Coca-Cola could make money out of Hitler? Or that crop-killing chemicals produced by GM company Monsanto were sprayed on Vietnamese fields, causing tens of thousands of birth defects? Or that ‘aspiration figures’ are apparently paid to hold scripted conversations about certain products on our streets? And on and on and on for 145 minutes. It all gets a bit too much, with Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Naomi Klein and other celebrity leftists doing a thorough if uninspiring job of shedding light on the dark world of corporate power. But by far the best and most optimistic contribution was from a Bolivian anti-privatisation activist, who along with the rest of his community seized control of their water supply from US giant Bechtel.

The Corporation may not have the laughs of a Bowling For Columbine or Supersize Me, but it is ten times more radical. Corporations plan to buy, sell and control every square centimetre of this planet, so everyone who lives on this planet needs to be aware of the disastrous impact this will have on their lives. As if to confirm all I had seen, I was given a flyer for a ’revolutionary’ book and a 'free' Galaxy bar within twenty seconds of leaving the cinema. That may seem harmless enough, but this is just the beginning...