The Corporation

on June 04, 2004 by Kevin Courrier
"The Corporation," which recently won an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival, is a slick and self-righteous piece of snake-oil salesmanship. Disguised as a hard-hitting documentary on the dominance of corporations in our cultural and political life, the film is a fallacious polemic that panders to the audience's prejudices rather than providing a nuanced and intelligent critique of corporate culture. Based on Joel Bakan's best-selling book, the documentary sets out, in the wake of numerous corporate scandals like Enron, to demonstrate how the uninhibited pursuit of profit, and the corporation's lack of accountability, has led to the immeasurable harm caused globally by privatization, globalization and the free market. They trace the beginnings of the corporation, some 150 years back, as a legal entity given the status of a human being. "The Corporation" then provides a psychoanalytic portrait of this monolithic institution and determines its behavior as that of a psychopath wreaking havoc on a global scale. While corporate culture has certainly earned a thorough examination of its sometimes dubious practices, "The Corporation" becomes instead a numbingly glib response to a more complex problem. Building their case on predictable retorts from political ideologues like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and disingenuous muckrakers like Michael Moore, directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott stack the deck with jokers before they even play their hand. The film fundamentally refuses to fairly examine the intrinsic relationship between corporations and consumers, the role of big unions, or the important change in corporate life from the cigar-chomping entrepreneurs to the current capitalists with demographic charts and Perrier-breath. When the film does speak to various CEOs, it's only to set them up for derisive laughs from the audience. For all its hysterical bleating about the pervasive evils of corporate control, "The Corporation" is itself a conformist piece of propaganda that has its own corporate mindset. Featuring Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Howard Zinn. Directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. Written by Harold Crooks, Joel Bakan and Mark Achbar. Produced by Mark Achbar and Bart Simpson. A Zeitgeist release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 165 min
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