Monday, July 19, 2004
Distressing is one word I would use to describe The Corporation, a new documentary by Jennifer Abbot and Mark Achbar now in distribution. Other words would also begin with the dis prefix, and maybe the mis and mal prefixes as well. To my mind this film was much more effective than Fahrenheit 9/11 (although it’s probably an unfair comparison: Corporation is much broader in its critique than F 9/11, going after capitalism in general rather than Dubya in particular). It’s a meaty film, filled with all kinds of disgusting morsels and piggish maneuvers (for instance, Bechtel Corporation’s attempted privatization of water in Bolivia -- which would have made it illegal for villagers to collect even rain water -- and covert marketing campaigns). I didn’t learn anything new exactly, but the visual and rhetorical force of the film left me swooning. I kept an eye open for mention of any tech companies. Microsoft and Yahoo were mentioned in passing (“aggressive” was the term someone used for the Gates Machine), e-Bay's logo flashed on screen a few times, Xerox and Amazon came in for some ethical violations, there was a segment on the IBM-Nazi link, but there was absolutely no mention of Google. Which brought to mind Google’s motto: “Don’t Be Evil.” I know that many workers at Google take this phrase to heart (and now is the time I should mention I work at Google), but I wonder if it somehow operates as a marketing-tag in addition to a company goal. To what extent has Google successfully branded itself as a non-evil corporation? Can a company live up to its ideals if its ideals have become ad copy?