So here in America, where we're more enlightened than the rest of the world, we have decided that corporations are people. Of course, we must now ask, what sort of people are they?
When I think of the corporation as a person, most strike me as white men, middle-aged and conservative. They drive popular cars but not necessarily expensive cars, like the Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, SUVs like Explorers and Suburbans. A few will be hybrids but that's because they got a good deal. They attend church in a suit with tie. (Does this remind you of Mitt Romney?) They will look at you when you pass and nod, civil but not friendly, although they smile. Their teeth are very white. None of them strike me as a minority. A few are women. I think Sears is an adult white woman, probably middle-aged, neatly dressed in a black business pants suit, a string of pearls around her neck, starting to dye her hair and coping with peri-menopause.
Entertainment companies are like the average corporation except they've adopted casual Friday all week long. Tech companies will also wear shorts to work.
Some corporations try to cultivate image and use spokespersons and commercials to convince you who they are as a corporate person. Progressive, for example, has that woman dressed in a white uniform in a white store, trying to convince you that your insurance is like buying things in a retail store. As a corporation, they end up striking me as the middle-aged woman from Texas on "What Not To Wear", wearing short dresses, tight clothes and lots of make-up, competing with her daughter, who's about to enter college. She refuses to believe and accept who she is, and tries convinces the rest of us that she's right and we're wrong.
Allstate Insurance employs Dean Winters as an actor portraying 'Mayhem' as a villian wrecking your car through different scenarios. They imply that car insurance is the hero that can save you from Mayhem. It doesn't quite work for me. I instead think of Allstate as Mayhem, a sort of scruffy looking angry white man destorying property and causing damage.
The cigarette companies don't appear much as a corporate person so much as a part of the community, the people you never see. They live in a big old mansion. Emanating a sense of gloom and depression, it's isolated and on the edge of town. It's always neat and quiet, without even birds singing around it. Sometimes a chauffeured driven black car glides down the driveway and goes past. Everyone stops, falling quiet and peering to see who is inside but blackened windows keeps everything inside private. There are whispered stories about who they are and how they got their money, but nobody actually knows them. They've been there forever, before there even was a town. Whenever you pass their house, you wonder, what's happened in there?
Energy companies strike me as men trying to pick up women. They sit beside them in bars and at parties, plying them with drink and delivering cheesy pick up lines. "Hey, what's a model like you doing in a place like this?" they ask with a smirk. "I'm not drunk, I'm just intoxicated by you." "Your body is a wonderland, and I want to be Alice." "Can I take a picture of you so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?"
Alcohol and beverage corporations are those friends and acquaintances that always throw parties, always inviting people over, always planning to go somewhere, or just returned from somewhere, busy, busy, busy. They're white men, younger than other corporations, working hard to stay in shape and be fit. You go to their party the first time to see what's going on and discover, not much. People are drinking, it's noisy, you don't know anyone, not even the host, really, you just know him from saying hello at the mail box, but now he thinks you're BFF. "Friend me on Facebook! Do you like this drink? Like it on Faceback! Let's play some games! Let's sing some songs! Where's my guitar? Let's go down to the beach and start a fire." They're not interested in anything except having fun, making noise. and pretending that everyone is their friend.
But once you've been to the party, you don't want to go back. One time is enough. "Them again?" you ask when you get the evite. "Oh, all right, I'll go, but I'm not staying long."
Banks and other financial institutions are just as you picture them, clean-shaven white men with a big McMansion in a gated community. They're married but you never see their wives and children. The children are off at a boarding school, visiting with them during the holidays when the family goes off to expensive resorts. They mostly drive high end luxury cars, and they're dressed in suits with college ties. They always seem to be on a cell phone or working somewhere, eyeing you as you walk by, suspicious of you if you approach them, cutting you off in traffic, parking at the red curb or wherever the please, ignoring the cross-walks and jaywalking, giving you the finger if you honk at them, ready to fight you if they cross you. They're the men who ask, "What are you looking at?" when you look at them.
Haliburton looks like Dick Cheney, an aging white man with a sour expression walking around talking to himself, a trail of minions surrounding him. Google and IBM are like the tobacco companies but a little friendlier, but still white, writing letters to the newspaper to state their position, polite to you but not your friend, nodding and agreeing with you, and never disagreeing, shooking your hand when you met, and telling you, "It was good seeing you," when you part. They talk about you behind your back, though. You think they're your friend, then you discover that they've been having parties and haven't been inviting you. When you ask them, they tell you, "It's nothing personal," and shrug.
Not all of the rest are adults. Car corporations don't seem like adults to me. They appear to be children, whining for attention through their cars. "Hey, look at me, look at what I'm doing," they shout, waving their hands, poised to do their thing. "Are you watching? Watch me. Keep watching. Here I go." Then they do something and tell you what they do with self-satisfied smugness. "Did you see what I did? I employed traction control to keep you from crashing. Did you see me? Did you? Here, I'll do it again. Keep watching."
NASCAR is sunburned and white, overweight but bulky with muscles, hanging around at the alchohol companies parties, telling racial and sexist jokes and protesting, "I hope I'm not offending anyone." They don't care if they do - it's your problem if you're offended - but they at least they asked, which is good enough in their mind.
What corporations are women? I don't know, nor do I know which appear to be minorities. These corporate persons seem interested in their world only. They don't watch television. They golf and play tennis and take vacations but not to see the world. They're not interested in the world past themselves.
It's not that I believe that this is how all white men or white people behave, but there is a subset that does. It does not mean that all white men are evil or self-centered. These corporate people remind me of those sort of people that I've met who are like that, uncaring and self-absorbed. I think part of this isn't that there aren't minorities who run corporations, but that as corporate people, they join the crowd. Perhaps it's an insult to white men to speak of corporations in these terms so let's instead call them colorless, religiousless, sexless people without any ethnicities or ties to the communties, outsiders who are trying to belong but who don't really care.
Sort of like machines.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com