Starting on Wednesday, October 6, Vision TV is airing The Corporation, the award-winning documentary documentary, in three parts, on October 6, 13 and 20.
The movie is about the emergence of corporations as the dominant institutions of our time, the pathology of corporate behaviour, and some of the responses to the problems posed by corporations. It started its long run in Canadian theatres in February, 2004, just after winning the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival.
To prime yourself to watch the movie, for the first or second time, on tv, you may wish to revisit our initial commentaries on the movie from last February, looking at the controversy the movie stirred up among certain business journalists, and about the “next steps”-things you and I can do to limit corporate control of our lives.
The Corporation – Synopsis from Vision TV
Part One: “The Pathology of Commerce” – Oct. 6
An all-pervasive presence in contemporary life, the corporation is capable of generating great wealth, and of causing great harm. In this episode, the filmmakers explain how, in the mid-19th century, the corporation seized upon the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – originally designed to protect the rights of freed slaves – to win the legal status of a “person.” But what sort of person is it? As they examine the “externalities” resulting from corporate activity, such as pollution, sweatshops and human health risks, the filmmakers conclude that the modern corporation falls frighteningly close to the clinical definition of a psychopath. Nevertheless, they acknowledge the possibility for change as well, offering up the example of Ray Anderson, CEO of industrial carpet manufacturer Interface Inc. After experiencing an environmental epiphany while reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce , Anderson has spent the last decade vigorously promoting a new, sustainable approach to business.
Part Two: “Planet Inc.” – Oct. 13
When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11, commodities trader Carlton Brown says he and his colleagues all had the same first thought: how much will the price of gold go up? “In devastation there is opportunity,” he says. Indeed, there are no limits to what the corporation can exploit for profit. This episode examines the corporate world’s relentless drive to “permeate and possess” everything it touches, from our planet’s air and water to the genetic building blocks of life itself. While marketers, public relations practitioners and others explain the art of managing and manipulating public perceptions, academics and activists ponder the implications of living in a world in which The Walt Disney Company has created its own planned community (Celebration, Fla.) and biotechnology companies race to patent our genes. Is every human relationship destined to become a commercial transaction? Is life itself just another commodity to be bought and sold?
Part Three: “Reckoning” – Oct. 20
The corporation often shows a troubling indifference to democratic values when these conflict with the pursuit of profit. This concluding episode looks at some historical cases in point, from IBM’s complicity in the Holocaust (as reported by author Edwin Black) to a conspiracy allegedly backed by business leaders to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. But the filmmakers also focus on a countervailing trend: a growing grassroots movement that seeks to limit corporate power. Whether in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where residents successfully fought the privatization of the water system, or in the city of Arcata, California, where citizens groups won a battle to put the issue of corporate power on the municipal agenda, ordinary citizens are now standing up to demand true public accountability for the corporation.