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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is a 2005 documentary film by director Robert Greenwald. The film presents an unfavorable picture of Wal-Martmarker's business practices through interviews with former employees, small business owners, and footage of Wal-Mart executives. The film intersperses statistics between the interviews to provide large-scale examinations beyond personal opinions. The documentary was released on DVD on November 4, 2005.

Synopsis

While the film begins with footage of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott praising the corporation at a large employee convention, the film spends a majority of its running time on personal interviews. A variety of criticisms of the corporation emerge from these interviews, demonstrating Wal-Mart's anti-union practices, detrimental impacts on small businesses, insufficient environmental protection policies, and poor record on worker's rights in the United Statesmarker and internationally. The film ends with interviews of community leaders that have prevented Wal-Mart stores from being built in their communities and an exhortation for others to do the same.

Reaction

The film has been endorsed and promoted by, among others, MoveOn.org and unions through the Wake Up Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch campaigns. Wal-Mart has disputed the factual accuracy of the statements made in the film. Wal-Mart:The High Cost of Low Price has been credited as one of the reasons that Wal-Mart created a public relations "war room" in late 2005 to respond to criticism. Their most notable effort was to release, on the same day as the release of The High Cost of Low Price, a DVD film defending its practices entitled Why Wal-Mart Works; and Why That Drives Some People C-R-A-Z-Y. Ironically, director Ron Galloway would later turn against the company, stating in the April 2007 issue of The New Yorker, "They just instituted a wage cap for long-term employees—people making between thirteen and eighteen dollars an hour. It’s a form of accelerated attrition. They can’t expect me to defend that."

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is currently #25 on Rotten Tomatoes' top films of 2005 with a rating of 92%.

The movie was also referenced to on Rise Against's album Appeal to Reason, where it says "See: Wal-Mart: The High Price of Low Cost"

However, others have criticized the film for being simplistic and inaccurate. Critics state that Wal-Mart actually pays higher than many other jobs, promotes from within, and its suppliers in developing countries provide higher wages than are otherwise available. It has also been criticized in failing to acknowledge that every change in the retail section (development of malls, for example) have been met by similar complaints, and that attempts to artificially stop this change generally fail to prevent the economic events (preventing a Wal-Mart from opening does not stop the job loss). The Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode "Wal-Mart Hatred" similarly criticized this movie for being socialist, for failing to point out the economic benefits of Wal-Mart, and for not being honest about the downsides of unionizing. The episode also pointed out that while Greenwald denounces Wal-Mart for lack of unionization, the film's editing process was also non-union.

References

  1. Goldberg, Jeffrey. " Annals of Spin: Selling Wal-Mart." The New Yorker. April 2, 2007. Retrieved on March 29, 2007.
  2. Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices page on RottenTomatoes
  3. Vallery, Jason. " Penn & Teller". Retrieved on February 24, 2008.


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