Contextual Analysis: Mega Talks

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My digital artefact ‘Mega Talks’ was developed under the premise to expose mega corporations within film and television, taking a look at how these production companies and networks embed themselves into evil mega corporation roles within these Hollywood blockbusters and shows. To present my information on the topic I decided to create a 3 part podcast series called Mega Talks, addressing three mega corporations and their downfalls that ultimately make them evil. I paid close attention to Disney, Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox as my mega corporations exposing them for what they really are.

My initial research into the topic led me to mega corporations, in general, looking at how the term “megacorps” made its way into cyberculture and how this was then transcended into the most common mega corporations we see in film and television today. William Gibson created this notion of an evil corporation by coining the term “megacorps” as a result of his novel ‘Neuromancer’, which steered heavily towards a “technological near-future dystopia” (Samplereality, 2014). This term made its way to the real world after Gibson witnessed unprecedented economic mergers in the 1980’s economy, resonating in a new sense of a corporation as “the multinationals that shape the course of human history, has transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality” (Encyclopedia, 2000). Profiler Robert Hare declares “corporations can be categorised as psychopathic because they exhibit a personality disorder: that of single-mindedly pursuing their objectives without regard for people in and around them” (Top Documentary Films, 2004).

‘Mega Talks’ critically engages with the topic on mega corporations within the cybercultures niche by looking at the characteristics that make an evil mega corporation. The author of ‘Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema’ Annett Kuhn (1990) writes about the depictions of corporations in fiction and they direct link to reality. Stating that movies like Alien and Blade Runner justify megacorps by “presenting an entirely different version of the capitalist future…question, but also the bourgeois patriarchal structures of power and values that give rise to these ways of behaving…where conformity to the demands of these structures is dehumanising and dangerous.” However, reflections and criticism about the ‘real-world’ “pre-exists and determines representation, and that representation portrays the real world in unmediated fashion.”

Furthering my research on the topic led me to simplify my search and definition of evil. The word evil has various of definitions but the one that stuck with me when linking it back to mega corporations was New Yorker writer Rollo Roming’s (2012) reference to Peter Dews definition that evil lends “itself to exploitation by whoever uses it”. It was here where I started to look at the alliances to combat the evil doings of the situation, particularly those represented in Hollywood.

However, my artefact did take a turn and instead of looking at the alliances and rebels who are going up against the corporations I looked more at how these corporations were inadvertently projecting themselves into the shows and films they make and release. It is from these projections that we see how they are using their power to brainwash people and make them unaware of their downfalls by making themselves as family friendly and lovable as possible.


References:

Encyclopedia 2000, Gibson, William (1948-), Encyclopedia, weblog, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gibson-william-1948&gt&gt;

Kuhn, A 1990, Alien Zone Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema, Verso, Finland

Roming, R 2012, What do we mean by evil?, The New Yorker, 25 July, viewed 21 April 2017, <http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/what-do-we-mean-by-evil&gt&gt;

Sample Reality, 2014, Megacorporations: How Close Are We?, weblog, 14 September, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://samplereality.com/davidson/dig101/2014/09/14/megacorporations-how-close-are-we/&gt&gt;

Top Documentary Films 2004, The Corporations, Top Documentary Films, weblog, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-corporation/&gt&gt;

Mega Talks: Disney

Episode 3: Disney

A company that has shaped our childhoods and brought to us the magic of happiness, Disney has really made its way to the most known and beloved company on Earth! But does Disney have a more cunning and sinister side?

Find out more as we uncover the mysteries that lie behind the smiling face of Mickey Mouse.

 

Mega Talks: Warner Brothers

Episode 2: Warner Brothers

The studio that brought us Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney crew, Warner Brothers has been around for generations. Bring to life some of the most popular children books by making our magical dreams come to life. But is there something this film studio doesn’t want you to know?

Join me in uncovering the secrets that lie behind the Warner Brothers studio.

Mega Talks: 20th Century Fox

Episode 1: 20th Century Fox

We all know and love 20th Century Fox, they have brought us the likes of The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy and much more, not to forget all they amazing cinematic projects we have witnessed come from this studio. But how much do you really know about this mega corporation?

Join me in uncovering the truth behind 20th Century Fox.

The Image Of “Evil”?

evil-word-cloud

Throughout my research into the topic of mega corporations and their Hollywood sci-fi equivalents, I have developed an understanding of how they are constructed and what elements drive them to domination. Sci-fi corporations and real-life corporations are one of the same, they all strive for money, power and to be the only ones that can do what they are doing and ultimately become the sole provider of these things.

With this in mind, I initially wanted to create a podcast that was reminiscent of a crime shows that gave off a who did it, kind of vibe, however with further research and peer feedback my view has slightly shifted in terms of the structure of the content I want to create. My second idea was to do a comparison of big named film companies, such as Disney, Pixar and Lions Gate, and how they inadvertently portray themselves as the megacorp villains in the movies they create.

However, discussions on the topic led me down a different route. To really understand the essence of evil I decided to review the philosophy into the word, New Yorker writer Rollo Roming (2012), states that centuries before evil was described as a manner of ills from natural disasters or the impulse to do wrong. However, in today’s world, we look at evil with an emphasis on crime, trading on the term’s aura or religious finality.

Crashcourse’s Hank Green explains evil from a religious perspective looking at the problems it can cause. religious evil is the most common view of evil and causes many problems, through the aspect of the all-knowing.

However, “The meaning of “evil” has become increasingly unsettled even as it has narrowed, yet the word has proven to be an unshakable unit in our moral lexicon.” Roming goes on referring to Peter Dews who describes evil as “lending itself to exploitation by whoever uses it”. The meaning of evil has many vectors and can be shaped in many ways from supernatural to religious but from a standpoint of mega corporations, evil can be defined as an extreme moral wickedness.

Against the moral wickedness, you will usually have an alliance that will combat the evil doings of the situation. Hollywood movies do this effectively with rebellions who attack mega-corporations taking them down and exposing everything they have done. With this angle, it was proposed to me that I look at the different activist groups and other rebellious organisations combatting real-life corporations within my research and the content for my podcasts.

image041.jpgAdbusters was called to my attention as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age” (Adbusters Media Foundation, 2007), a rebellious group fighting mega corporations. The Canadian-based activist group was founded in 1989 by Kalle Las and Bill Schmalz, two award-winning Canadian documentary filmmakers. Through the Adbusters campaigns, a sub-culture is formed known as culture jamming.

Culture jamming refers to the practice of criticising and subverting advertising and consumerism in the mass media, by methods such as producing advertisements parodying those of global brands. The founders of Adbusters, explain culture jamming as “a metaphor for stopping the flow of consumer-culture-saturated media” (Sandlin & Milam, 2015). Adbusters content focuses on two main themes, “how marketing and mass media colonise space, and how global capitalism and rampant consumption are destroying natural environments” (Sandlin & Milam, 2015).

This particular direction will work well for my podcast by giving more depth and knowledge about the different activist groups that are out there in the real-world. Thus getting back to the notion of mirroring within film, Boffard (2014), writes about the possibility of movie-like mega corporations existing in real life, he continues on by establishing this happening when powerful corporations in arms manufacturing, healthcare, and software come together creating one massive mega-corp. “These kind of partnerships difficult, and fraught with all sorts of complexities, but it’s a lot easier than separate corporations trying to merge to become something like Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation” (Boffard, 2014).

It is possible for mega corporations to be formed in real-life, just not the extent to those that are found in film. However, mega-corporations on a smaller scale still exist, such as the ones that we interact with on a daily basis, cause a lot of problems that we often don’t see because we’re brainwashed into believing what they stand for and what they are selling.

Can we really identify the evil in the mega-corporations, whether they be the villains of the real or fictional world?

Are there deeper roots into the systematic constructions of mega-corporations and how they operate?

What makes them evil, to begin with?

These are all questions I wish to address in my digital artefact, hopefully, make the issue a little clearer for myself and my audience listening in.


References:
Adbusters 2017, Blackspot, Adbusters, viewed 21 April 2017, <http://www.adbusters.org/&gt;

Adbusters 2017, Occupywallstreet, Adbusters, viewed 21 April 2017, <https://www.adbusters.org/occupywallstreet/&gt;

Boffard, R 2014, Could An Evil Mega-Corporation Ever Exist In Real Life?, io9, 9 April, viewed 22 April 2017, <http://io9.gizmodo.com/could-an-evil-mega-corporation-ever-exist-in-real-life-1630401831?IR=T&gt;

Romig, R 2012, What do we mean by evil?, The New Yorker, 25 July, viewed 21 April 2017, <http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/what-do-we-mean-by-evil&gt;

Sandlin, J.A & Milam, J.L 2008, “Mixing Pop (Culture) and Politics”: Cultural Resistance, Culture Jamming, and Anti-Consumption Activism as Critical Public Pedagogy, Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 323-350, viewed 23 April 2017, >http://www-tandfonline.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-873X.2008.00411.x?scroll=top&needAccess=true&gt;

The Bad Apple

The birth of the corporation began after the Industrial age in 1712, when the need arose to boost productivity. They have since grown into a dominant and prevalent part of our daily lives as we consume every product and service, which they release to us. We like to believe that the corporation was established to work together with the community, to inspire them towards a more economical future.

MomCorpHQ

However, with the rise of the cyberpunk genre, the image of an ‘evil corporation’ otherwise known as the megacorp has altered the way we view corporations and their work for the community. William Gibson’s 1984 novel ‘Neuromancer’ captures the niche market of the science fiction genre, cyberpunk, steering heavily towards a “technological near-future dystopia” (Samplereality, 2014).

neuromancer.jpg

Gibson also refers heavily to a recurring political dominance of ‘megacorps’, which suggest a “person” (organisation) who hold “immense power over many markets and often have more power than any conventional government” (Samplereality, 2014). Gibson created this term in the 1980s economy, which saw unprecedented economic mergers, the trilogy resonates with a new sense of the corporation as “the multinationals that shape the course of human history, had transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality” (Encyclopedia, 2000).

Hollywood has also shown us how the corporation, although may seem humble and wanting to do good by their customers, actually have a different agenda on their minds. This power hungry, artificial creation is seen in many sci-fi movies and TV shows. Quora (2017), has created a list of the most iconic evil megacorporations from science fiction literature and movies (which you can see the whole list here)

But here are a few that you may know, with a brief description of some by Alyssa Johnson who wrote ’15 Evil Corporations in Science Fiction’ (2009):

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– Chronowerx: Startrek Voyager

– International Genetic Technologies: Jurassic Park

– Kaos: Get Smart

– SPECTRE/SMERCH: James Bond movies

– Momcorp: Futurama

– Cyberdyne Systems: Terminator series – While the corporation is said to be benign in the first two films, manufacturing parts for bigger companies, they then make the mistake of creating Skynet, a system of artificially intelligent supercomputers that control (among other things) nuclear missiles. This was not a smart move. In fact, it’s just un-smart enough to warrant Cyberdyne’s inclusion on this list. (Johnson, 2009)

– LuthorCorp: Superman – Hailed as one of the largest, most diversified multinational corporations in the world, it also happens to be founded by Lex Luthor, who runs it with his characteristic ruthlessness. The list of cities and countries where the corporation has holdings is basically as long as the list of cities and countries on Earth, and the number of companies controlled by LexCorp is almost as long and just as varied. (Johnson, 2009)

– Tyrell Corp: Blade Runner – The Tyrell Corporation produces the replicants, lifelike androids designed to the work deemed to dangerous and demeaning for humans, and is named for Dr. Eldon Tyrell, the founder and genius inventor of the replicants. While it’s debatable how truly “evil” the Tyrell Corporation is, there is a definite sinister quality to their dealings and it’s nigh impossible to deny that they definitely smack of “evil corporation.” (Johnson, 2009)

It is these fictional representations of corporations that bring to light the reality of real, functioning corporations. The documentary ‘The Corporation’ (2004), highlights how like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation overpowered him, corporations are doing that to us as they lie and deceive us constantly to remain on top. Profiler Robert Hare declares “corporations can be categorised as psychopathic because they exhibit a personality disorder: that of single-mindedly pursuing their objectives without regard for people in and around them” (Top Documentary Films, 2004).

Annette Kuhn writer of ‘Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema’ (1990, p. 45), helps us understand that the depictions of corporations though they are fictional, hold a sense of reality within their behaviour. Stating that movies like Alien and Blade Runner justify megacorps by “presenting an entirely different version of the capitalist future…question, but also the bourgeois patriarchal structures of power and values that give rise to these ways of behaving…where conformity to the demands of these structures is dehumanising and dangerous.” However, reflections and criticism about the ‘real-world’ “pre-exists and determines representation, and that representation portrays the real world in unmediated fashion.”

It is obvious that real-life will always be worse than what is represented in fiction, as it happens on a greater scale and to us in real time. The documentary highlights how much damage corporations have had on our communities, how much they have been harming their worker, the environment and how many fines they have had to pay out in order to fix what they have ruined. However, the consequences don’t seem to catch up to these corporations whether they are fictional or not.

Therefore for my digital artifact, I wish to expose these corporations for who they really are…CRIMINALS! I want to create a podcast series of 3/4 episodes, of about 3 minutes long taking on a who did it approach to the topic. Taking inspiration from my favourite crime shows like Waking The Dead, Broadchurch, CSI, Cold Case, 48 Hours and the documentary The Corporation. I want to unfold Gibson’s take on fictional megacorps and highlight them in real-world corporations and how they have caused as much damaged in the real world as the fictional ones did in their world.


References:

Encyclopedia 2000, Gibson, William (1948-), Encyclopedia, weblog, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gibson-william-1948&gt;

Johnson, A 2009, 15 Evil Corporations in Science Fiction, i09, weblog, 18 April, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://io9.gizmodo.com/5217560/15-evil-corporations-in-science-fiction&gt;

Kuhn, A 1990, Alien Zone Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema, Verso, Finland

Quora, 2017, What are the most iconic evil megacorporations from science fiction literature and movies?, Quora, weblog, viewed 16 March 2017 <https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-iconic-evil-megacorporations-from-science-fiction-literature-and-movies&gt;

Sample Reality, 2014, Megacorporations: How Close Are We?, weblog, 14 September, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://samplereality.com/davidson/dig101/2014/09/14/megacorporations-how-close-are-we/&gt;

Top Documentary Films 2004, The Corporations, Top Documentary Films, weblog, viewed 16 March 2017 <http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-corporation/&gt;