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January 14, 2004

The Corporation 

Robert Paterson links to this review of a new documentary, The Corporation. A fascinating and provocative review of what sounds like a fascinating and provocative film. The dirty linen of corporations down the years washed before your eyes on screen.
With interviews from the usual gang of lefties - Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, et all - The Corporation could easily have been a yelling, screaming, chanting case of shaking your fist at the wind, but it must be said that the people constructing this film have done so with academic impartiality and impeccable depth. Michael Moore rightly points out that, though the company that will distribute this film will undoubtedly not agree with its contents, or Moore's words, it will still sell the film because it doesn't actually believe in anything but pure profit. Moore is pretty clear, and undeniably right - a CEO will sell you the rope with which to hang him, as long as there's a profit in it.

But not every CEO it seems. Interface Carpet CEO Ray Anderson had an epiphany a few years ago that not a single corporation on the planet was a sustainable one. Every large company takes more out of the earth than it gives back, and when you come to grips with that point, it's no great leap to realize there has to be a limit placed on that kind of imbalance if we're to avoid killing ourselves. Pump crap into the oceans for long enough and you have an ocean of crap - so where do you pump that?

Anderson has become an advocate for responsible corporate life, managing to keep his company's raw material and pollution intake from rising at all over the last few years, while still managing to increase profits by $200m and maintain his company's place as the biggest carept manufacturer in the world. As Anderson describes the way he used to run his business, he's almost in tears. If only a few other CEOs had a tenth of his humanity.
After reading this review, you may find yourself accepting the closing recommendation:
Set aside three hours of your life and watch The Corporation. Hunt it down, find it, any way you can. I just watched 750 people sit down as capitalists and stand up yelling for change. I witnessed people throwing brand name products into garbage cans afterwards in disgust. I witnessed hundreds signing on to email lists for more information about how they can help change the world. I saw an audience moved to exact change on the world around them, to take back what was once theirs and maybe one day can be again.

Normal documentaries don't have that kind of an effect on an audience. Normal documentaries don't give you enough to get truly fucked off at what is being done to us. The Corporation, to be sure, is far from a 'normal' documentary. This is the kind fo filmmaking that could, if seen on a large scale, change the society we live in.
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