Both in the real world and in fiction – particularly science fiction – big corporations are often demonized. For a single entity to take over the world, what better tool than a lot of money? And that’s exactly where the power of corporations comes from. If you’re looking for powerful, cutthroat caricatures who will do anything to get to the top, where do you find them? Corporations. For these reasons, greedy, money-grabbing corporations and the people behind them are very the often the key villains in fiction. These days, the the popularity of the dystopian sci-fi genre has seen an imaginative collection of evil, corrupt corporations feature heavily in fiction. Of all the despicable, exploitative and destructive corporations to ever appear in the fiction, which are the worst? And which are scarily closest to a potential reality? These are 10 of the worst corporations that we’re thankful don’t exist.
10. InGen (Jurassic Park)
No matter how rich it makes you, bringing back dinosaurs for entertainment purposes is probably not a good thing. Accidents are bound to happen, and when those accidents include things like accidentally letting a T-Rex loose in San Diego, perhaps it’s a sign that some business ventures are better left alone. Just because you have the technology, doesn’t mean you have to use it. That’s a lesson based on the fictional world of Jurassic Park, but real-life modern corporations could do well to keep it in mind.
9. Multi-National United (District 9)
Multi-National United’s slogan may be “Paving the way to unity,” but this company, which is contracted by the South African government to deal with the unexpected arrival of extraterrestrials, doesn’t live up to their motto at all. In fact, they enforce segregationist policies on the new arrivals, and even subject them to illegal and cruel experiments. Hardly unifying. And what’s scariest about this corp? Delve a little deeper past the crazy aliens-on-earth scenario and we notice a worrying commentary on the very real problem of racial segregation in South Africa.
8. Tyrell Corporation (Blade Runner)
Genetic engineering never goes over well in science fiction, does it? The godfather of dystopian sci-fi, Philip K. Dick, conceived of the terrifying genetically organic robots in his post-apocalyptic novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and these same androids were brought to our screen in the ’80s classic, Blade Runner. The creepiest thing about the androids churned out by the Tyrell Corp is that they’re indistinguishable from regular human beings. These replicants, as they’re called, are manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation for dangerous or menial work on colonies, but the human replicas are officially not allowed on Earth or they’ll be hunted down by bounty hunters, and “retired.”
7. RDA Corporation (Avatar)
After greed and corruption has ransacked Earth and stripped it of almost every valuable resource, what’s stopping the same corporations who ruined their own planet from moving on to other planets when there’s profit to be made? In this case, RDA is after one thing from Pandora, and that’s the lucrative supply of ‘Unobtainium’ that can be found there. And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to harvest their bounties, even if it means harming human-like creatures that are living there. A crazy premise, perhaps, put it certainly speaks to our own fears for our planet. The movie also seems to be drawing tragic parallels to the industrialisation of beautiful, untouched lands and the disenfranchisement of native peoples which is a significant part of the history of many westernised countries.
6. Omni Consumer Products (RoboCop)
If corporations could figure out how to privatize a city so that citizens had to buy stock in their home town, we can only hope they’d refrain for reasons of decency. But in this case, that was exactly OCP’s mission – to turn Detroit into such a place where civil services such as the police are owned by the company. Prisons are already privatized in the U.S., so this one isn’t necessarily quite as ridiculous as it sounds.
5. Gattaca Aerospace Corporation (Gattaca)
Gattaca Aerospace Corporation is only as evil as the society to which is belongs. In the eerily-near future, eugenics has become common place – it’s a world where the wealthier members of society can afford to design their perfect baby. But what about those ‘in-valids’ who were conceived traditionally? In the Gattaca Aerospace Corp, as in every other area of life in this troubling dystopia, genetic discrimination is par for the course. So even the most enthusiastic and naturally talented members of society are relegated to the menial roles. It’s a terrifying caste system, and the whole premise is just a little too close to home these days.
4. The Union (Repo Men)
If people think the current state of healthcare is cruel, The Union from Repo Men take it up a notch by creating bio-mechanical organs which anyone can purchase to replace existing, problematic ones. There’s only one catch… these fake organs are extremely expensive and if you fall behind on your payments, well.. The Union repossesses them, much like anything else. This often kills the patient, obviously. Nothing like turning a profit from human suffering…
3. Weyland-Yutani Corporation (Alien)
Whenever you try to profit from a creature that destroys any human it comes into contact with, you’re probably a pretty amoral, if not evil, person. And when that means putting employees in harm’s way in order to capture one of these creatures – well, then you’ve truly managed to take evil to a whole another level.
2. New Founding Fathers of America (The Purge)
Are they evil, or just misguided? Less than a corporation and more of a governmental organisation, the New Founding Fathers of America have brought the country out of the clutches of war, crime and poverty by enforcing one entirely lawless night a year, when humans can unleash their wildest, most perverse and even sadistic impulses without fear of legal retribution. What’s scariest about this fictional organisation – other than the blatantly horrifying concept – is that it’s something of a parable on wealth inequality in the U.S. today. Those who can afford protection on the Purge night are safe – they even ‘hunt’ -so that the Purge effectively becomes a practice of killing off the vulnerable members of society.
1. Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil)
Sure, it might look like an innocent bioengineering pharmaceutical company on the face of it (if bioengineering pharmaceutical companies could ever considered innocent), but deep down, Umbrella is actually heavily involved in military research including bioweaponry. The offset of their work is a terrifying gang of zombies being unleashed on an unsuspecting city. This is yet another fictional reminder of our fears – if not the very real dangers – of biological engineering.