Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices (review)

WalMart: The High Cost of Low Prices, is a Michael Moore-esqe propaganda documentary high-lighting the ills of the Walmart corporation on both communities and individuals. It has all of the heart-string grabbing and manipulating one would come to expect from this genre of documentary. But, thankfully, this one had slightly more facts that a Moore documentary, meaning more than one.

It was as one sided as one would expect as well, completely unabashedly biased against the corporation, which does not mean that most of it was completely untrue. Parts of it ignored logic and causation, especially the time when it was equating local government giving Walmart subsidies to come to their community, with schools closing and municipal services suffering, as if funds were ripped from the straining hands of struggling social services, but it showed no causal link between subsidies and municipal funding.

Same with the sob stories of people losing their business' or jobs to the behemoth. No direct link of causation were shown between the entrance of Walmart, and the closing of their local business', not to say that there isn't one (I think there is), but it was just poorly documented.

This documentary also seemed rather amateurish in quality, with over long cuts, messy transitions, bad graphical effects, and odd cuts and voice overs. At some points (with the Chinese factory worker) it seemed that the translation was dubious, in that she was talking much much more than was translated, whole scenes go by with no voice over, in which she is still speaking in the background in Chinese.

You could tell the motive was to get an emotional response, as opposed to an intellectual one. This is something I don't like in the new-wave liberal propaganda documentaries. While an emotional response is more powerful, I think an intellectual one is further reaching, and promotes more rational (meaning effective) responses. This genre of movie, though, does serve an important purpose in that it opens up debate, and conversation on the issue, which is more important than the actual message of the documentary itself.

It also was strongly lacking in statistics for some of its main claims. Though the ones it did offer were sickening, and quite disturbing.

The problem with this documentary is that it smacks of preaching to the choir, in that every person in the theater was obviously against Walmart, or they wouldn't have gone to see the movie. So you have to wonder about the efficiency of getting the anti-Walmart message across. The only way to get to their audience, one would think, is by selling it in Walmart!

Other than these few flaws it was a movie well worth watching, and well worth forcing our extreme conservative and libertarian friends into watching, since it shows how nasty a corporation can be, within the confines of the open market that they love so well. When money becomes the prime goal, the mistreatment of humans is not far off. Sure, the investors are dancing in the streets, but human misery also runs rampant. We must ask ourselves, which is more important.

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