The website lists the movie as “Breathtaking,” “Mesmerizing,” and worth “Two thumbs up.”
Honestly, I think the only person who found the movie “breathtaking” was this one lady in the congregation who gasped at every number thrown up on the screen. She was either asthmatic or had no idea that numbers could go above one thousand.
As far as it being worth “two thumbs up,” I think the movie makers may have been putting those thumbs some place the sun doesn’t shine, because the movie is a bit painful to watch.
Now, I think it’s excellent that people want to get the message out about Wal-Mart. It’s an annoying store with hideous practices that treats its workers like shit. I’m all for boycotting the place (an ineffective as that will be, alas–see below), and if Sam’s Club wasn’t the bestest place to get Bulk items, I’d be able to successfully and completely do that.
But throwing this piece of propoganda in the faces of people you want to call intelligent, thinking consumers is just silly. They toss out numbers with neither comparisons nor percentages. How do I know that a couple of thousand employees’ children on Medicare in [some state] is actually a large amount compared to 1) the total number of children of workers for Wal-Mart in that state, 2) the number of children on Medicare in that state period, 3) the number of grocery/hardware store/electronic story employees’ children on Medicare in that same state, etc. Give me something to compare that to. Numbers that large are useless except for making that lady on the other side of the room gasp again.
So much of the movie could have been cut to make it much more intelligent. I tend to think that if you treat people like thinking adults, they will generally step up to the plate. This movie doesn’t treat them that way. It treats them like brainwashed zombies who need to be swayed with tactics similar to those in Wal-Mart commercials: showing good ol’ white bread Christian Americans being trampled by the forces of Wal-Mart and silly goverments that unevenly hand out subsidies.
Oh, and the Photoshopped, flaming “Victory” for all the places where Wal-Mart’s been rejected?
Just fucking silly.
One thing in the movie that puzzled me a bit is that they list that Terre Haute successfully rejected the building of a Wal-Mart here. That’s odd, because there is a Wal-Mart here, and no one in their right mind would suggest Terre Haute is large enough to support two gargantuan Wal-Marts. However, I did find that a rezoning request was denied in 2004, and if that’s actually indicative of an attempt to move in (and not to expand the current store, say), that’s really just sad.
Anyway, the movie is interesting, despite its flaws. I didn’t know several of the things mentioned in the movie, including the overseas portions (China in particular) and the crime issues with the parking lots (although again, there was a distinct lack of comparison to other 24-hour stores or stores with decently large parking lots, like Target, K-Mart, Walgreen’s, etc.).
They also left out anything on Wal-Mart’s censorship practices, which bothered both me and WO. Maybe it was thought that those white bread Christian folks would care less about those issues. (Read Metro Active’s “Wal-Mart Censorship“, PBS’s “Store Wars: Wal-Mart Business Practices“, and Wired.com’s “The Games Wal-Mart Doesn’t Play“.)
Unfortunately, the film is also hitting all the wrong crowds. Over ninety percent of the showings of the film in a particular religious outreach program have been by UU churches. My thoughts on the consequences of doing so can probably be inferred from my choice to include the following paraphrase of a woman’s comments in the discussion that ensued after the movie showing I attended:
I don’t see why even poor families need to shop at Wal-Mart. I say, go to the Dollar Store. Everything you need can be gotten there. You need food? Get it at the Dollar Store. Diapers? Dollar Store. […] I tell you, I just bought $1000 worth of Christmas gifts, all from the Dollar Store!
…Yeah. This was in response to WO’s comment that the hardest thing to get around in boycotting Wal-Mart is the fact that many people have too few options fiscally other than to shop at Wal-Mart because they are, sadly enough, the cheapest place for many things in a town like Terre Haute. Boycotting has to come from everyone, not just the [upper-]middle-class folks that can choose to go elsewhere with only a barely-felt pinch on the wallet.
…A thousand dollars worth of gifts… Yeah.
Anyway, Wal-Mart has poor business practices. Boycott it if you agree. Write to your city officials if it looks like a[nother] Wal-Mart may appear in your town.