Friday, November 18, 2005

Wal-Martgate

San Francisco Chronicle — Most of the 4 million people who saw director Robert Greenwald's last movie, a critique of Fox News called "Outfoxed," caught it at a house party. The independent film ignited liberal audiences last year without the benefit of a Hollywood distributor, major studio or much of a theatrical release.

Labor and faith groups are shooting higher with this week's premiere of Greenwald's "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price": They hope to use the film to coalesce a social movement around criticism of the world's largest retailer.

Wal-Mart is countering with a campaign worthy of the final days before an election -- even circulating a review panning Greenwald's directorial efforts in a 1980 Olivia Newton-John vehicle. And Wal-Mart officials haven't even seen the new film yet. That will change after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom presides over Wednesday's West Coast premiere -- at a Fort Mason benefit screening.

"Wal-Mart" DVDs will screen at more than 6,800 locales, including house parties, churches and labor halls. There will be plenty of opportunities to see the film in politically blue parts of the country such as New York and San Francisco, a city with no Wal-Marts but 11 scheduled screenings. However, there will also be a dozen showings in both deep-red Kansas and Georgia, and others in rural areas where Wal-Marts dominate the landscape.

Many of the screenings will happen during a "Wal-Mart Week of Action" starting Nov. 13. More than 400 groups, including the Sierra Club and Service Employees International Union, will use the film's premiere to publicize their anger at the nation's largest private employer.

Their grievances are the ones labor and liberal groups have been pushing for several years -- that nearly half Wal-Mart's employees have no private health insurance or are on Medicaid, that most of its stock is produced by cheap overseas labor, and that by building stores on the fringes of towns, it contributes to sprawl and destruction of the environment.

"Our goal isn't to close Wal-Mart down," said Greenwald, who paid for half the film's $2 million production costs himself. The rest was paid for by two private liberal donors. "It is to make it a better, more humane company toward its employees and the communities it is in."


*To read the story in its entirety, click here or click the image above to go directly to the official movie site.

5 Comments:

Blogger Terri said...

Currently 3 of the daycare clients I have work at Wal Mart. All of them make less than $9 an hour and work craptacular hours (7 p.m. to 3 a.m. is a pretty common one.) None of them have health insurance for themselves or their kids, they are all on Medicaid. The sad part is, Meijer, which is a unionized chain that is similar to Wal Mart (groceries, clothes, shoes, toys, automotives, garden center, etc.) actually offered my daughter a dollar an hour less than Wal Mart, plus union dues would come out of her pay. Working at large retail chains is the new slave labor, much like waitressing and fast food work has been in the past. I don't see a solution, I have nothing mind boggling to offer except to say that my daughter was actually grateful for her Wal Mart job because she has a two year old son to support and Wal Mart was hiring and offered more per hour than the other places in the area. It just stinks. Will I continue to shop there? Yes. I just don't have the moolah to go other places when I can get dog food, cat food, tp, detergent, personal care items, etc. for a dollar an item less than other places, which also stinks, but it's the truth.

Friday, November 18, 2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger mlndink said...

That movie is great--Everyone in America should see it; hell everyone in the world actually, since Wal-Mart is global. The thing that confounded me is the middle america population who are pro NRA and conservative, Christian etc, who do they vote for? Evil, greedy fucktards who are lobbied to and endorsed by billion $ corporations like Wal-Mart. Meanwhile, their mom and pop hardware store is going out of business and their son is STILL in Iraq. WHY?! I am poor and luckily I do not have children. I will NEVER shop at Wal-Mart--I'd sooner go to the convenience store than shop at Wal-Mart--and if your town has a Wal-Mart, maybe it's ignorance on my part, but usually where there's a Wal-Mart, there's also a $1 store or Piggly-Wiggly, and coupons....

Friday, November 18, 2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Dennis! said...

Which Olivia Newton-John movie? Whatever, I'll cut him!

Though I have to admit "Two of a Kind" was pretty bad. "Xanadu" was sooo bad, it was great.

But I still love me my Olivia.

Friday, November 18, 2005 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger Raymond's Edge said...

They said the same kinds of things about the "five and dime" stores one hundred years ago. GC Murphy's, Woolworth, Grants. They were going to destroy the American economy. Close down all the mom and pop stores. People would become slaves to these giants.

Of course this didn't happen. Murphy's and Woolworth are gone. The same will happen to Wal-Mart. The next "Big-Time" store will pop up out of nowhere in the future.

Saturday, November 19, 2005 1:14:00 PM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

Terri-
I hear you when you say Working at large retail chains is the new slave labor... I have friends that have either worked at or are currently working at retail chains (Target included...as much as I hate to admit it) and they really get screwed to the wall when it comes to insurance, vacation, work hours, etc. It's really sad that as a society we've deemed the almighty dollar more important than the people working to keep the CEO's in the lifestyle they've become accustomed to.

And I know you like Wal-Mart. That's cool. I'm just saying I still don't. I give them a chance maybe once or twice a year (when I can't sleep at 4 in the morning and they're the only thing open around here), but more often than not, it just solidifies my already negative thoughts about them. I just wasted $2 on some of their shitacular hot dog buns and cheese puffs. It's true; you really do get what you paid for. I'm just lucky that the things I buy on a regular basis are actually more affordable at other places around here (i.e. Kroger, Target, the Rainbo Bread outlet), so I don't have to go into a Wal-Mart if I don't want to.

mlndink-
Cool! I wanna see the movie, but it looks like I may have to wait and buy it on DVD on Half.com. What I've seen of it, I'm intrigued.

Ugh, and speaking of small towns, my parents live in one and their local Wal-Mart just closed down and reinvented itself across the street from the High School (grrrr) as a "Wal-Mart Super Center." My parents took my by there and were practically glowing. They kept trying to get me to agree with them on "how beautiful" it was. I was like "Yeah, it looks like a Wal-Mart. It may look great now, but just wait a couple of months. I feel sorry for all the people who live next to it. Their property value is gonna plummet." Naturally, they don't "get" why I have such animosity towards it, they just think it's wonderful. Sad.

And you're right, there are at least 4 other grocery stores in town and countless dollar stores (which also seem to prey on small towns). But again, it's a small town and they can't compete with a shiny new megastore. It makes me very sad, 'cause you know when push comes to shove, Wal-Mart would pull out of there in a heartbeat, leaving those townspeople high and dry (not to mention more empty, hulking building shells) if it meant saving their ass and "the bottom line."

Dennis!-
I'll give you a hint. It starts with an 'X' and it ends with a 'du.' That's right, Xanadu. I can't help but looooove Xanadu! It's one of those "so bad it's good" musicals that I adore (Can't Stop the Music, The Apple, etc.)

I may have to cut him myself!

Raymond's Edge-
But Raymond, I don't wanna wait 100 years for Wal-Mart to go away! Waaah! :( Personally, I miss stores like Ben Franklin's, Gibson's, Woolworth and Mott's. Those are what I considered "real" businesses. I grew up in a small town and they left plenty of room for COMPETITION, something Wal-Mart doesn't seem to want to comprehend. They don't seem to understand that not everyone has a need for a gross of toilet paper or to buy Cheez-Its in bulk.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 1:37:00 PM  

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