Thursday

I'm Agnostic.... really. And a liberal (disappointed or otherwise).

Ok. I'm back watching Vision Tv. As bizarre as the channel seems to be I find myself drawn to their programming. In the last week I'm watching 'Casablanca', 'War Games' and now the documentary 'The Corporation'. I hadn't seen the documentary so I thought I would check it out. Initially I thought the film was quite interesting but not groundbreaking. Then, as it went on, I felt that sinking feeling of propaganda. Now, instead of the fear of 'Nuclear War' as last night's film exposed, I'm treated to the liberal fear of the 'corporation'. The film seems to take the view that we are all automatons and are helpless to the influence of corporate greed and coercion.

Rubbish.

Sure, it's rubbish with a lot of interesting points but it stands as propaganda and the advertising of fear. The film constantly vilifies MacDonalds, Starbucks, Nike etc, presenting the point that these corporations manufacture society's desire for their products. I take offence for every individual with a brain in their head. Sure, MacDonalds has it's own propaganda wing (aka advertising) and it tries to coerce the public into wanting a Big Mac or a McChicken sandwich. However, MacDonalds didn't become a behemoth of a corporation by making a crappy sandwich. The general public likes MacDonalds. So MacDonalds does what every corporation does, it advertises and tries to manipulate people into wanting to eat at their restaurant. Is this unethical? Do we try to protect our weak by denying them something that they've already made successful by their patronage? At what point do we allow the 'customer' to make a choice for themselves? It's an elitists view that we should protect them from themselves. Look at all of the companies that have failed over the years. Is it because they didn't advertise or manipulate as good as the others? Or is it that the public didn't like what they were selling?

Douglas Rushkoff wrote "Coercion', an interesting book that dealt with this topic. I've used the title word in my little rant here. Rushkoff is a media theorist (among other things) who wrote a great book called 'Media Virus'. Media Virus explored the idea that things are injected into the 'media space' and in an interesting phenomenon, would self replicate. The OJ Simpson trial and the Rodney King case are great examples of things that came to light in the media and, like a virus, self replicated until they invaded the public conscience. After the book was published, Rushkoff was approached by advertising and marketing people to help them find a way to create their own 'media virus'. What Rushkoff discovered was a deep network of corporations that meant to wield this device for it's own profits. He sat in and made notes and got payed gobs of money to 'consult' with them. In the end he wrote 'Coercion' and subverted this found knowledge to expose and explore these ideas.

Rushkoff is notorious for his optimism and it's something that I really like about him. Instead of reading it all as 'evil' or fear propaganda, he approaches the subject like a philosopher. He asked the most important question of them all... If we are to believe that 'they' (the corporation) are out to get us, who constitutes the 'they'? It's the fear of the unseen enemy. The fear of the 'rich'. It's all conspiracy but we can't identify the conspirator as 'they' or 'them' or 'he' or 'she'. The unseen enemy is easier to deal with than the complicated issue of supply and demand. No demand. No supply. I don't buy the public as absolute lemmings. Whether the elite like it or not, people like Walmart, MacDonalds, Nike, Tim Hortons, Best Buy, Gap etc.

I must counterpoint now as I'm sure you might be livid and possibly boiling with my semi-conservative rant. There are many good points brought up in the documentary about corporate abuses. What happened with Enron was simply evil. Greed, pure and simple. The issue with BP today highlights the abuse of the environment. Child labour and human exploitation is rampant. And we drive our SUV's and buy cheap goods made at the hands of the exploited. We. Not just the corporations who apparently brainwash us. We support it. We are guilty. I'm not a fan of left wing propagandists that treat adults as simpletons and act like they know best. Why hold the faceless corporations soley responsible when we support them? I know... they manipulate us and tell us lies. And 'we' are not responsible to check the facts. 'We' are just lemmings, mindlessly doing what we're told.

If the view is that 'we' are just a bunch of idiots following whatever guides us on the television then why not make a scathing documentary about that? Expose 'us' for what 'we' are...

3 comments:

JCasual said...

There is a popular misconception that artist are liberal and that all corporations are bad. In the animation business, its Disney. In Toronto, its Nelvana.

These companies take risks that employ artists to do the work they love. If the corporations use the intellectual abilities of their employes well, they can-it's not a given- prosper. If corporations use artists badly, they will lose them. The triumph of Pixars films over Disney's is a good example. Good corporations stay out of the way of artists, bad ones get in the way. I'm tired of these propagandists pointing fingers at evil corporations. Artists have always needed patrons to allow them to do their work.

As well, these are not as monolithic as they are painted. Henry Ford said: "The company is the reflection of one man's shadow." In recent times, Pixar reflected Steven Jobs, Disney, Michael Eisner. In older days, Disney reflected Walt. Companies have been personalized rather than reflecting the decisions of those that run them.

In a recent educational opportunity I pursued, "The Corporation" was used as an example of how artists need to be warned about the perils of working for Big Business. The instructor, in her closing comments, urged the class to take action in this propaganda war. From her admitted feminist and Marxist leanings, she was definitely taking sides.

The negotiated space we all operate in allows "The Corporation" to be broadcast. Corporations paid the filmmaker to produce this work.We should be aware of the excess power of companies but to condemn them as "The Corporation" does is too simplistic.

I watch Visiontv too.

JCasual said...

Maybe the fact you say we are all guilt is why you watch Vision Tv.

Repent. Repent. Redemption is at hand.

Mark said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with that word 'simplistic'. For all the smart people they got to appear in the documentary, they didn't seem to explore the topic very well.