Food, Inc.: Film Analysis

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In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, castle-guard Marcellus spots the armed apparition of the recently deceased King Hamlet haunting the castle grounds and warily remarks “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” No offense to Marcellus, but Robert Kenner, director of Food Inc., doesn’t need to see a ghost to sense a similar kind of foul play in the state of America’s food industry. Food, Inc., reveals the dark, corporate underside of America’s food industry that nobody seems to acknowledge. Through his implementation of juxtaposition and emotional appeal, Kenner shatters the illusion of the “pastoral fantasy” and uses tension and fear to disrupt America’s industrial paradigm. Much of the film operates by creating tension to unsettle the audience.…show more content…
Fear is an integral means to this end. Throughout the documentary, Kenner works hard to vilify the corporations involved in the food industry. The audience is led outside of a chicken coop where the owner (a Tyson farmer) mentions the chickens never see the sunlight. Text is then flashed onto the screen to imply the farmer “changed his mind,” or was threatened by Tyson not to let the film crew inside and, further, that Tyson declined to be interviewed. Using a text caption rather than verbally explaining this adds a layer of ominous mystery, as if Kenner himself is too fearful to divulge too much about the company. “In The Grass,” alternatively, uncovers how the companies use fear to keep their employees complacent. Meatpacking is discussed as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States (mainly in part to injury or infection), yet the corporations of the food industry are unfazed. Instead, companies, such as IBP, specifically recruit workers from Mexico, who, according to economists Dell Champlin and Eric Hake either, “possess fewer rights and have much lower bargaining power than most US workers,” or in the case of undocumented workers, “have no rights and no bargaining power at all” (Champlin and Hake 54). Companies specifically handpick undocumented workers so as to take advantage of their powerless…show more content…
It is brief in both length and content. The simple ways “we the people” can change the food industry seem too miniscule and ineffective in the face of what Kenner just illustrated to be an issue that is corrupt at a deep, fundamental level. Additionally, these suggestions being flashed onto the screen without the guidance of a voiceover feels like even the narrator is too overwhelmed himself or unable to offer a real solution. The appeal to nationalism is misguided, as the viewer now thinks differently about the inner workings of America’s industrial model. In that respect, playing “This Land is Our Land” in the background almost gives off an eerie vibe, creating the opposite effect than intended. Though Kenner was successful in using tension and fear to disrupt American’s food industry, he is not able to offer up a viable solution strong enough to console the audience in their newly heightened awareness. Kenner compellingly exposes the foul play present in America’s food industry, but the conclusion falls short, leaving the viewer feeling more scared and powerless than
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