Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why "Speaking Truth to Power" is a Crock

The expression "speaking truth to power" is one of the more smug and pretentious sayings around. We can see how effective it is by observing how ruthlessly corporations suppress any films that portray corporations in a negative light.

Except for a few that slip through. Like:

Avatar: The RDA Corporation strip mines a planet to satisfy Earth's energy needs, destroying the home of the native intelligent species.

Blade Runner: The Tyrell Corporation makes sex and combat androids with a lifetime of four years, giving them human intelligence and emotion, but no hope.

District 9: Multi-National United pretends to assist stranded aliens while secretly adapting their technology for weapons.

Office Space: Initech isn't evil on a global scale, just personally

Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Corporation keeps sending Sigourney Weaver and her expendable crewmates to hostile worlds in search of alien life to weaponize.

RoboCop: Omni Consumer Products takes a cop's brain and transplants it into a robot, while an especially evil executive plots to use fully robotic but faulty machines.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Corporation unleashes a zombie apocalypse on the world.

Soylent Green: The Soylent Corporation performs the ultimate in recycling, by recycling people into food wafers. Contemplate the thermodynamic impossibility of this plot. (Soyent Green II is coming out: Tag line: "Soylent Green is still people!")

Total Recall: Poor Arnold Schwartzenegger. He can't put on his socks without being attacked by an evil corporation. In this case, Rekall can give you a dream vacation full of false memories, except it also monopolizes air on Mars and uses Ahnold to try and ferret out the resistance.

The 6th Day: Replacement Technologies is plotting to replace humans with clones. Ahnold again.

The Running Man: ICS pits prisoners (Arnold, of course) against trained assassins.

The Terminator: Cyberdyne Systems creates Skynet, which launches a nuclear war and then builds robots to exterminate the survivors. Arnold is an evil robot in the first one and a good robot the next time around.

The Truman Show: A TV network keeps a man in a perpetual studio set for his entire life, and the viewing public is apparently okay with that. At least when Truman finds the way out, they don't send henchmen to stop him.

Wall-E: The BuyNLarge corporation chokes the earth with waste, strands a cute little clean-up bot on Earth to clean up the mess, and sends humanity into space, where it becomes bloated and indolent on a comfortable ship.

Silkwood: Based on the story of Karen Silkwood, who died before she could deliver the goods on a real live corporation, and who apparently never heard of Xerox machines, safe deposit boxes, and mailing backup copies of her information to multiple destinations.

Cloud Atlas: A whistle blower and a plane load of innocent people are blown up and an investigative reporter almost killed because the whistle blower apparently never heard of Xerox machines, safe deposit boxes, and mailing backup copies of his information to multiple destinations. Or e-mail.

Idiocracy: In a world ruled by idiots, the Brawndo ("It's got electrolytes") Corporation rules. My beef with this film is it went for the usual soft, non-controversial targets. Not a hint that religious cults and political lies might play a role in dumbing down society, or that just being comfortable makes people lazy. But corporations are okay to portray as evil. Because speaking truth to power.

China Syndrome: Jane Fonda reports on the possibility of a nuclear meltdown, which the evil nuclear power plant is trying to suppress.

Network: Not even TV is safe. A network news anchor goes nuts on the air and threatens to blow his brains out, and when ratings skyrocket, the network eggs him on.

Jurassic World: Ingen, the dinosaur cloners, has an executive who wants to weaponize raptors.

Wow, "speaking truth to power" really works. Because corporations are absolutely terrified about being portrayed as evil.

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