Corporatocracy

Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (center) celebrate with Mickey Mouse in the Super Bowl victory parade in the Magic Kingdom on Monday, February 4, 2019 at Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

A look into corporate effect on society

By Cam Alsbrook, Assistant Editor – @ForrestSpirrit

In the modern age, social media has given corporations easy access to information on consumers and competitors and are profiting.

Corporations have worked to influence the way our nation absorbs and reacts to information since the birth of yellow journalism in printed media.

Corporatocracy — at its core — is the idea that corporations have taken control of a society in a manner that benefits them and has set up the ideal environment for people to rely on them for certain aspects of daily life.

These aspects can include the entertainment industry, as the most visible example, our governmental system, housing, food, transportation and even basic toiletries.

Companies such as Facebook and Twitter directly influence our political ties by opening the flood gates allowing mass amounts of information relating to government officials across the political spectrum.

The issue of Corporatocracy influence goes beyond American borders, according to Professor of Communication Dr. Justin Walton.

“Corporatocracy is everywhere — affects media, business policy, politics, education, law and religion,” Walton said, “and it’s not just confined to the United States— it is very much a global phenomenon. The business model has come to dominate most if not all of our social and democratic affairs.”

Art Department Adjunct Professor Josh Mindemann said it is a quest for power that drives companies like Disney into growing on a global scale.

“The desire for money is global; it’s human nature to strive for power,” Mindemann said, “I feel like the more power anyone gains the more they will fight to keep it regardless of how it affects the masses. Businesses will do what that have to in order to maintain power and control.”

Disney is one of the biggest conglomerates worldwide, possessing reach over a majority of entertainment media as we know it.

Mindemann said that the amount of influence they possess has caused the erasure of original film-making studios.

“It’s coming closer and closer by the day to becoming a monopoly,” Mindemann said. “This hurts cinema as a whole because Disney has more and more control over the theaters, and original films suffer. As everything gets compressed, run through the Disney machine, movies become homogenized. We need variety and creativity, and monopolies crush that.”

Disney-Marvel tried to pressure Sony into paying them more money for the inclusion of Tom Holland as Spider-man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), as Disney wanted to have a higher cut of profits made from the Spider-man movies.

Recently though, the two companies came to a deal keeping Spiderman in the MCU.

This series of events led to an uproar from fans of Spider-man and Marvel, which brought both companies attention and free advertising for the two entities, according to Walton.

“Marketing and advertising both play a role,” Walton said. “The film industry is, ultimately, trying to make a profit and media conglomerates will work to negotiate deals that lean in their favor.”

On the idea of the two companies planning the discussion intentionally to bring excitement and attention, Mindemann believes it came down to profit.

“I feel like it was at least rooted in a real negotiation but the bottom line is money and media buzz is free,” Mindemann said. “Just like the occasional ‘leaks’ that tease upcoming films, it creates a lot of excitement and doesn’t cost the companies a dime.”

Walton said that the ramifications of corporatocracy involve our education systems and institutions.

“So many of our traditional institutions today are controlled or at the very least directed by corporate interests,” Walton said, “Decisions are made in ways that reinforce the interests and power structures of corporate culture.”

Communication, English and Foreign Languages Chair Dr. Christopher Keller worries about competing money interests and their ability to rid truth-based media, and that when something threatens the factual nature of journalism, it is cause for concern.

“Look at Sinclair Media, for example,” Keller said, “there is record of that parent company requiring ‘local’ news stations to read from a script for talking points on some topics. We need to be vigilant anytime freedoms are taken away at the interests of ‘company’ – it doesn’t mean Mother is bad, just that we should watch her.”

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