The Corporate Exec: Hollywood Demon

Nazis are getting old, moviemakers don’t want to offend foreign audiences, so corporate types top the list of evil stereotypes.

It is not surprising that popculture protesters are now intent on occupying Wall Street. For the past decade, Hollywood has been casting financiers as the demonic villains of society. In the multiplexes, businessmen have replaced even terrorists as villains.

In the Warner Bros. political thriller “Syriana,” for example, the villain is not al Qaeda, an enemy state, the mafia, or even a psychotic serial killer. Rather, it’s the big oil companies who manipulate terrorism, wars and social unrest to drive up oil prices.

Tracks of the root-of-evil corporate villain are everywhere in post-cold War Hollywood. Consider Paramount’s 2004 remake of the 1962 classic, “The Manchurian Candidate.” In John Frankenheimer’s original film, the villain behind-the-villain is the Soviet Union, whose nefarious agents, with the help of Chinese Communists, abduct an American soldier in Korea and turn him into a sleeper assassin. In the new version, the venue is transposed from Korea in 1950 to Kuwait in 1991, and the defunct Soviet Union is replaced as the resident evil. The new villain is—you guessed it—the Manchurian Global Corporation, an American company loosely modeled on the Halliburton Corporation.


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