Reviewing reviews

Since seeing The Corporation, I’ve read a few reviews to see what other people have to say about the film. The response is overwhelmingly positive; in fact I struggled to find a single negative review (they do exist if you look hard, see below), except, perhaps, this one, but then Mr Roy is notorious for bashing almost everything (Whining, not dining, indeed). But many reviews I’ve read complain that, although the documentary is, by and large, very good, it still contains a bias toward the left, whereby interviewees such as Noam Chomski and Michael Moore get a greater share of the screen time, and the people on the other side of the fence like Michael Walker and Milton Friedman only get a bit part. It’s true. But unlike some other recent docos, at least it had the courage to let the proponents of the opposing view put forward their side of the case, and the actual interviewing appeared to be non-inflammatory (compare Michael Moore’s interview of Charlton Heston in Bowling for Columbine, for example). In fact, the interviewers were mainly conspicuously kept out of site for most of the film. There was no stunt pulling, which seems to be a staple of Moore’s films. In rating a documentary, one has to compare it with the other fare on offer, and the documentaries that has preceded it. I ask you to name a single political documentary that does not have an angle or slant. I cannot think of one. Furthermore, from the outset, even before stepping into the cinema, the viewer understands the purpose of the film is to show that corporations are out to get power and money (the subtitle of the book it is based upon is The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power), and I believe it achieves its goal. If there was a shortcoming of the documentary, it was not its bias toward the left thinkers, it was its failure to properly suggest an alternative to the corporation. They advocated smaller, grass-roots type organisations, but it’s not clear how this model could achieve economies of scale (how does the local co-op build a large passenger jet at all, let alone build it as cheaply as a large corporation like Boeing?). Further investigation of these sorts of questions would have been welcomed, but the movie was already long enough. Perhaps they can do a sequel, and maybe even a sequel to the sequel. You know, Star Wars style: The Corporations Strike Back followed by Return of the Hippies.

Anyway, I suggest most reviewers (the ones with left-liberal tendencies, at least) included the mandatory it’s a bit biased line not because they thought this bias hurt the documentary, but because they want to make sure they’re not thrown into the same category as the raving leftist kooks. A case of the left bashing the left to ensure disassociation.