Monday, November 14, 2005

wal-mart: the high cost of low price

virago is now hooked on civilization iv. we were at my house saturday night when she joked that she was going to take a nap, so i joked that i would "play my game" while she slept. suddenly we were collaborating on a new game. when on sunday, she wanted to go back and spend the afternoon playing more civ, i knew she was hooked. now we need to look into getting her a copy of her own, so she can play during holiday break.

we were consumed by the game enough that it was hard to tear ourselves away in time for the screening of the wal-mart movie, but we managed.

we had RSVPd for a screening on the east side. when we arrived, the place looked dead. there were in fact 6-8 people there; turns out they were in the basement. we arrived a few minutes late, but not too bad.

the movie is powerful and relatively comprehensive. it hits all the major high points of wal-mart's predatory and unethical business practices: mistreatment of workers, union-busting, discrimination against minorities and women, appalling overseas factory conditions, environmental hazards, poor security (and heavy crime in parking lots), how upper management trains employees and managers to break the rules (and the law), right down to the sheer glee that the company seems to take in shutting down nearby small businesses. it features lots of interviews with former workers, former managers (some relatively high up), foreign factory workers, and more.

the production values are relatively low. some of the editing isn't great and the graphics aren't always that good either. but i expected this: robert greenwald documentaries tend to be low-budget and don't have the production quality of, say, a morgan spurlock or michael moore film. but that's okay because the content is pretty solid.

so i highly recommend the film. people nationwide are holding screenings all this week, so plug your zip code into the website and find one near you. most screenings are free or very cheap (ours charged $2, but they also provided lots of food; i think i got my $2 worth in dips and cookies.) if that's not an option (or you've seen it and want to own it) you can buy a copy on dvd or vhs for just $12.95+s/h. that's a low price you can live with.

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