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Analyzing the Movie CommentariesEssay

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Movie Commentaries

Norma Rae starring Sally Field

Plot Summary

This movie filmed in the state of Alabama is about social conflicts. In short scenes not common to that time, the film shows the restrictions or limits of thought/vision that come about because of vision of poverty. The characters in "Norma Rae" are neither eugolized nor parodied, instead they are displayed in quite a genuine light. Norma Rae's mother, who is almost going deaf owing to the noise in the place where she works (a weaving room), is indifferent to the environment; while her father is cautious, at best, about the union as any other member. Another character, Sonny, stops working at the mill and takes a new job at the service station. The main appeal of this film is not merely the manner in which the challenges the characters face, are overcome, but how the director brings out the natural characters, everything from their complicated feelings for each other, emotional reserves, and their grit is brought out in the scenes and the words they speak. The conflicts in the film are important, but not as crucial as the characters in the film particularly Norma Rae, whose personality is shown in her funny, and at times, brutal interactions with strangers, parents, children, lovers and ex-husbands (Canby, 1979).

Ethical Issues

One of the biggest ethical issues in this movie was the poor working conditions that were causing deaths among the employees. Norma's father was one of the people who were affected. The management was aware of the conditions but were not putting in any effort to improve the working conditions. It reached a point where Norma Rae confronted the management to get things done after her father too dies due to the poor conditions. She is the only one (in a mill of 800 staff) that dared raise a voice to bring about changes to the institution (Leadership Development And Norma Rae Movie Leadership, 2015).

Connection to Readings

According to Boatright, the notion of employment is based on two concepts, namely: freedom of contract and property rights. However, most rights are limited, simply because they will, be in conflict with another right at some point, or with crucial social interests. For instance, property rights are important to securing our freedom and meeting out basic needs according to Locke's Political theory (Boatright, 2012, p. 169).

Part Two: North Country starring Charlize Theron

Plot Summary

This film is about the events taking place around Lois Jenson in a small town in Minnesota. In 1989, Josey runs away from her home with her two children. Her husband of many years had been abusive with her and she couldn't bear it anymore, so she goes back to her parent's home. She then finds work at a local coalmine to sustain her family. However, she finds out that the female workers at the mine are constantly ridiculed, intimidated, and face a lot of aggression at the mines, and she is no exception. This is the environment that later leads to the Supreme Court case Lois v. Eveleth Taconite Company, a case which leads to changes in the federal sexual harassment legislation (Loewer, 2013).

Ethical Issues

The main ethical issue in the "North Country" was that the mining company was openly violating what was apparently a basic ethical code. The need for a law to protect women at the workplace was obvious but someone had to bring it to attention. However, to bring a class action lawsuit, at least three individuals had to file a case. Since, many women were afraid of losing their jobs they didn't speak out. Therefore, Josey Aimey had to fight it alone (Loewer, 2013).

Connection to Readings

In the book, Boatright explains that an individual's views at the workplace can be dangerous. He further explains that workers have been fired or punished for their views, opinions or actions on their working conditions, political affiliations, advocacy of certain rights, or publishing material viewed to be non-conforming (Boatright, 2012, p. 173). However, some states have enacted legislations that prohibit employers from refusing to hire or firing an individual engaging in lawful activities in other areas of their lives (Boatright, 2012, p. 174).

Part Three: Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts

Plot Summary

While working at law firm, Erin Brockovich found something quite odd: medical records inside a real estate file. Upon investigating further, she found that Pacific Gas and Electric was purchasing homes that had been adversely affected by pollution and then demolishing them. The contamination was seemingly being caused by the company's chemical disposal procedures. The pollution was due to a cancer-causing compound known as "chrome 6" which the company had detected near its compressor facility in a town in California (Bos, 2000). The compound was seeping underground towards people's homes and causing them to be sick. Erin interviewed several people and found incriminating data and she, together with her boss, decided to file a class action suit that later resulted in a 333 million dollar settlement for the town's residents (Bos, 2000).

Ethical Issues

The main ethical issue is the lie by Pacific Gas and Electric, that it uses Chromium III for its work. This alone creates a criminally complicit image of the company and makes it answerable to authorities. It also establishes that the company didn't care about the safety of the people and that it continued its Utilitarianism operations which continued maximizing profits regardless of the humanitarian costs incurred (Bachani, 2012).

Connection to Readings

According to Boatright, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) 1970 on the general duty of employers, states that, employers are required to provide their employees with a workplace that is free of hazards likely to cause injury or death. First, the Congress, in passing this act, relied on a cost-benefit analysis where they saw that the savings to the economy (less injuries and deaths) outweighed the costs to industry. Simply put, the Congress relied on utilitarian reasoning. Still, whatever reasoning that was utilized, all workers have a right to safety in the workplace (Boatright, 2012, p. 196). Furthermore as Mark McCarthy put it (using ideas from Kantian concept of autonomy), individuals have rights to be protected from others who would use them for their own gains or enslave them (Lecture 8, p. 3).

Part Four: Food Inc.

Plot Summary

In this documentary, the director investigates the places, from where the food we eat comes, and what that means for future generations. By showing the friendly relationship between businesses and government, the director aims to show the negative side of the American food industry (Buchanan, n.d.).

Ethical Issues

The main ethical issue in the film are the facts that foods are getting genetically modified and many Americans are getting unwell because of this and the fact that the government is doing nothing about it. The intention is that if the government knew about how corporations exploit subsidies and laws to form powerful monopolies, then the outrage would be sufficient to make us think about what we are buying from the grocery stores (Buchanan, n.d.).

Connection to Reading

According to Consumerism theory, the increasingly greater consumption of different products is economically beneficial. Marketing plays a big role in creating dependence on certain goods (Lecture 9, p. 1). However, in the last two decades, the majority of American companies recognized that they have a social responsibility. However, most of these companies showed responsibility only to the extent that they remained competitive in the changing business environment. Big economic changes of the nineties meant that corporations were constrained in putting in more resources for corporate social responsibility (Boatright, 2012, p. 277).

Part Five: The Yes Men

This is a comical documentary about prankster activists, Mike and Andy, who create a fake WTO website and people mistake it for being genuine. They play along with the assumptions and they are soon invited to different events as WTO representatives. The two are glad to represent an organization which they are against and they buy cheap suits and set out to surprise their audiences with comic satire that highlights the worst aspects of free international trade (Varma, n.d.).

Ethical Issues

The main ethical issue is the exploitation of cheap foreign labor by the WTO which is invisible when everything at the organization is described in economic terms, which is why the main financiers of WTO and its supporters can live with the inhuman price of the organization's policies (Ebert, 2004).

Connection to Reading

All corporations require a control environment to make sure that their employees do their work well and that they don't engage in illegal / unethical behavior. Such an environment would require retraining or re-education of employees in addition to the work conduct regulations (Boatright, 2012, p. 301). Thus, there is a need for overhaul at the WTO. The policy or decision-making organs of the organization must work to revise and to promote trade between countries in such a way that there is no exploitation of one party for the benefit of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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