I have to go on a bit of a rant against what should be a good leftist project that has run amok. Many years ago I saw the excellent documentary “The Corporation,” which examines the corporation as an institution and it’s anti-social nature. Yet when I went to the film’s website today, it is filled with marketing garbage that you would expect from a typical corporation. Enticements to buy “The Corporation” sweatshirts and other products are prominently displayed. The site is operated by hellocoolworld.com, which describes itself as “an interactive agency that works exclusively on social cause projects and campaigns. We create, support and promote transmedia content and use grassroots and mainstream methods to get the good word out!”
This sound like basically a leftist marketing agency to promote good causes. Some of the causes sound reasonable, but I question the basic idea of a profit-based business promoting an institutional critique of the modern corporation. A corporation obviously is different than a business like hellocoolworld.com, but the profit-based motive they share is part of the film’s critique, at least as I interpet it. Marketing what you think is a worthy cause as hip and cool simply masks this.
I think what upsets me more as a high school teacher is that their lesson plans associated with showing the movie are only available if you buy the DVD Educational Resource for $195. The only way this will be bought is if a whole social studies department decides they want to invest their scarce resources in buying it. What about the teacher who wants to show the movie with the educational resources but can’t because his department doesn’t want to buy it?
I don’t necessarily mind needing to pay for educational materials, or even $195 for good ones, but it upsets me that a movie that could be such an excellent resource for those who want to challenge the power of corporations is behaving just like a business. It shows that the message is not the main priority. On the “Can I show the film at school” section of their website it says “You can show your personal DVD to as many people as you like, and the filmmakers encourage you to do so. However, in an institutional setting such as a high school or university, a different set of rules applies. Showing the film in these settings requires additional rights.”
The movie was made a long time ago and I assume it’s makers have been compensated. Yet years later the people who own the rights are more concerned about continuing to make money off of its showing than educating the public. I would very much like to hear how the rights owners justify this. I posted a comment on the site’s blog and hope to hear back.