This documentary attempts to chronicle the demise of the American corporation. It begins with exploring how corporate lawyers took advantage of a law meant to protect freed slaves from being exploited; in which the government would allow the corporations they represent to conduct business in ways that are unethical and immoral.
It concludes with the analysis of the post-modern business environment when corporations use advanced product placement strategies and globalization as tactics to undermine democracy. There are 24 chapters, as well as an extra DVD in which in-depth interviews with some of the contributors occur. They begin by defining the corporation as a “Legal Person” who is above the reproach that regular, everyday, citizens suffer through amoral behavior. Points addressed include those on the following list:
- The infamous discovery of Kathy Lee Gifford’s sweatshops overseas. It isn’t that the children in that factory no longer work under unfair conditions, but bringing attention to the matter created an environment in which few consumers are unaware that such conditions exist.
- The idea that the post-modern corporation is “psychopathic”, using characteristics used by the World Health Organization to diagnose personality disorders. ? Remarks by a corporate spy.
- Micheal Moore’s whit, antagonism, and unique perspective.
- A commodity trader’s take on how Sept 11, as well as the war on Iraq, helped him and many other investors make a lot of money, “destruction creates opportunity”.
- Public land was under the public interest in old Europe. Land was a “commons” and “belonged to God”, before privatization.
- The old Firefighter Brigade Emblems and how individuals that did not have a relationship with the local department suffered when there was a fire.
- How genetic engineering helped to create an environment in which corporations could possibly own the human body. How Monsanto got around the FDA, and the general public, by blackmailing reporters at a FOX news affiliate; biologically engineered milk is still pervasive in the US, despite it’s risks to animals and consumers.
- The idea that everything possible (ideas and rights, not just property) could be owned by a private corporation. This includes water, air, and rights to use of that which is essential to our survival, as well as land. More specifically, the fact that you can now patent living life, if it can be used for a unique purpose. General Electric did it with an oil-eating microbe. When will you?
- The song “Happy Birthday”, is owned by an AOL/Time Warner subsidiary. What else that we take for granted will be protected by copyright?
- We are conditioned to be consumers early on in life, from birth, actually. Marketers are taking advantage of the fact that children can nag their parents to buy certain products, and are busy creating ways to manipulate exactly what it is that kids nag for.
- Existentialism and lifestyle marketing in modern-day advertising, and how this numbs Americans to the continuing invasion of day to day life by corporations.
- Perception Management and how it helps corporations to become more competitive in the marketplace.
- How Pfizer helped make subways safer. Pfizer? Of course, in association with the transit authority, they helped create turnstiles that you cannot jump over. Just another example of corporations increasing presence in our lives.
- Creating brands, Disney’s live-in community in Florida, how this is in collusion with their idea of the All-American town and their “family magic” ethos. Of course they had to create a totally different brand under a different name (Touchstone), for more adult fare.
- What if corporations, particularly through undercover marketing guided all relationships and interactions with individuals? In many ways they already have.
- The citizens of Bolivia woes with the government’s attempts to privatize public water, including that which fell from the sky.
- The idea of a collusion between IBM and Adolph Hitler.
- What is Corporate Responsibility really about?
There are many other issues, of which there are entirely too many to mention in this article. Contributors include Naomi Klein (No Logo) and Noam Chomsky. This film is for anyone desiring to learn more about corporate America, and it’s relationship with the American public.