The Corporation is an incredibly strong documentary film that breaks down the concept of ‘corporation’ comparing it to the profile of a psychopath. Using humor, factoids and interviews from an impressive panel that includes commentators, such as Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and CEOs from some of the world’s biggest companies, the film traces the history of corporations. It reveals to us how corporations managed to have arrived at a place where they may be compared to a psychopath.
From the film we learn that the corporation is, after all, a legal entity that has the same rights as a human being under the present law. However, unlike an actual human who has to answer to the people around him, the corporation is only accountable to its bottom line, suggest the filmmakers.
The film indeed effectively paints a dark picture of what a corporation is capable of. For example, the film reveals to us some sad truths about sweatshops, environmental pollution, how parents are ‘nagged’ by children into buying products, and a retelling how Fox News pressured two investigative journalists into killing a story about BST, a Monsanto drug that increases milk production in cows, and incidentally causes cancer.
But what The Corporation fails to address with enough depth is just how much impact people really have on corporations. A corporation is, after all, only as good as the people who inhibit it. Sure, an executive has to worry about pleasing shareholders and winning bread for his family, but in the end the willingness to decrease pollution, or creating better working conditions, lies in the hands of that same executive and not some faceless entity known as the ‘corporation.’ A corporation is nothing but a legal entity. It is a shell that is run by humans, filled by human emotions and considerations. To place blame on a corporation, is to place blame on the shoulders of those human beings.
And if the wrong people happen to run a corporation, as the film goes on to argue, it is up to the public to change this. Because if all a corporation is really worried about is its bottom line, then we as a public have all the power in the world. If a policy of a corporation hurts the public, the public can fight back by boycotting products, gaining media attention, lobbying the government for proper regulation and so on. Just as long as we, as citizens of this world, refrain from merely talking about it and actually go out and do something. So perhaps, at the end, the corporation remains only a psychopath while the public allows it to.
The Corporation offers a very insightful journey into the corporation, made especially strong due to the interviewees involved and a fairly balanced, factually accurate perspective that co-directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, and scribe Joel Bakan opted for. At 165 minutes, the film does stray on the long side, but that is only a minor squabble with what is a solid documentary.