Via Instapundit comes this review of science fiction movies at Popular Science. The review of the movie “Moon” caught my eye:
In this space drama, Sam Rockwell plays a lonely lunar miner who is nearing the end of a multi-year contract. With communication satellites down, he’s cut off from the outside world, with little to keep him company other than a Kevin Spacey–voiced computer named Gerty (and his own demons, naturally). While the space dramas of the ’70s and ’80s were dominated by acid-spewing aliens, this movie’s monster is scarier yet: a negligent corporate bureaucracy. [Emph. added.]
WTF? You set a movie on the freaking Moon and the scariest, most dramatic conflict you can come up with involves tight-fisted accountants? Who’s going to be the scary monster in the sequel, those weenies in marketing?
This follows a pronounced trend I have seen in popular entertainment: Corporations are always portrayed as evil. This is especially true in entertainment aimed at young people, such as animation and video games.
Non-leftists find it so hard to convince people of the virtues of the free market because people are trained from childhood by popular entertainment to view business people as evil and exploitive.
In Disney/Pixar’s Wall-e, a single evil corporation drives the entire planet into a consuming frenzy that renders the planet uninhabitable. Then the corporation evacuates everyone to space and programs A.I.s to keep them there. (Like most of these depictions, the corporation actually acts like a government. In Wall-e the CEO of the corporation is even shown in recordings standing at a podium that is a direct knock-off of the U.S. Presidential podium.) In the Stars Wars prequels, the Separatist dupes of the Sith are identified as merchants and bankers. The popular video game/movie franchise, Resident Evil, revolves around the evil machinations of the Umbrella corporations.
Examples abound. Indeed, I would go so far as as to say that corporations never appear in any popular entertainment save as a force for evil. The only time this does not happen is when writers play to the trope to lead viewers to believe the corporation is to blame, so that they can pull a twist and blame someone else. All of the positive products of corporations that might be plot points, medicines, space ships, housing, etc. all appear ex-nihilo. Characters say things like, “A new drug has been developed that might help” instead of saying, “Fictional Corporation has developed a new drug which might help”. The only time that corporations are linked to their products is when they produce weapons.
The “Moon” example seems especially egregious due to its apparent depiction of corporations acting against their own immediate self-interest. There are numerous examples of corporations having people work in extreme, isolated conditions. Oil-rig workers on sea rigs or in arctic regions have to work very hard, for weeks or months at a time in conditions that are both hard, lonely and tedious. Companies learned a long time ago that they have to do everything possible to keep such workers happy and feeling well-cared for. It is incredibly expensive to get people to the work site and to supply them with the tools they need. It is counterproductive to create conditions in which this very expensive talent can not work at its optimum level. Oil-rig workers are payed extremely well, often into the low six figures, receive a great deal of down time and receive every perk and luxury possible given the constraints of the environment. Companies do so because they don’t want someone to get disheartened, depressed and distracted so much that they turn a valve the wrong way and destroy a 12 billion dollar sea rig.
Mining on the moon would be the same thing. Sending a worker and his equipment to the moon would be fantastically expensive. A company would want to make sure the worker was happy, attentive and productive. Making a plot in which a company risked massive losses reveals a profound bias. You could make a movie about somebody eating breakfast on the moon and make it interesting, but the best monster they can come up with is those bastards in accounting? Clearly their minds gravitate to the evil-corporation stereotype in the same way that artists circa 1900 went for racist conceptions of happy-go-lucky or where’s-all-the-white-women “Negroes”.
It wasn’t always like this. Prior to the ’60s corporations showed up as positive actors in fiction, especially science fiction. As a child I read the “Tom Swift, Jr.” series, which had as its central character a boy genius whose father owned a multinational engineering conglomerate. The corporation helped solve problems by making things. You would never see such a plot in children’s works today.
I think a lot of the young people who get a thrill up their leg when they see Obama do so because they have been programed by the entertainment they consumed, when they were growing up, to view corporations as evil. They really view themselves as under constant siege from powerful, evil organizations and believe that their only hope lies in an even more powerful State controlled by benevolent, articulate intellectuals.
We need to figure out how to counteract this. It might help if, when people begin to bad mouth corporations in a conversation, you just point out that they think that way due to the concept’s saturation in entertainment. Might make a few people think.