The movie features interviews with many top intellectual and business minds of the day along with clever spreadsheets and other corporate-mode graphics that carry us from corporate birth in the mid-1800s to today. The concept was at first something radically simple a public body formed to supply a community with goods and services its individuals could not get cheaply enough on their own. Today, the film asserts, those good intentions have become shelters for supreme beings with unlimited power and limited responsibility, unfeeling behemoths compelled by law and greed to maximize profits at all costs.
As the film relates, the costs are becoming unbearable: Aside from causing dangerous working conditions, poverty wages, pollution and the squandering of public wealth, corporations are not designed to think in terms of sustainability. Put simply: Doing things their way mathematically guarantees we will run out of resources. Along with Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and other pariahs for The Wall Street Journal readers to hiss at, the film offers compelling testimony from insider sources, such as Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who agrees that, like slavery, we must go after the institution. Actually, that's Chomsky's comparison, but Friedman grasps the concept: "Asking a corporation to be socially responsible makes no more sense," he says, "than asking a building to be."
Being at least a spiritual member in the fight against big business is, surprisingly, not a prerequisite to enjoying this witty, compelling and sometimes sad documentary. You will leave it at least knowing what corporations are and perhaps wondering whether we could do without them. Wayne Melton
"The Corporation" will be screened at the VCU Student Commons April 20 at 8 p.m. Free. 347-4378.
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