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I wouldn't suggest The Insider is a spiteful attack against capitalism; it is a story more about a man who must choose between telling the truth, or remaining silent to avoid risking his well-being. In the film, for those who have not seen it, those big, bad, evil tobacco companies have made their employees sign a confidentiality agreement with regards to the experiments performed on their cigarettes to make them addictive, while at the same time the numerous CEOs of tobacco companies went before Congress and basically said that cigarettes are not addictive. The employees couldn't say anything to anyone to tell the truth that the CEOs had lied and had purposely designed the cigarettes to be addictive to keep their customers smoking. If any employee were to break the confidentiality agreement, they could get sued and face jail time for breach of contract.

The film is based on a true story about Jeffrey Wigand, a whistleblower who appeared on 60 Minutes in the early 1990s to expose the lies made by a tobacco company called Brown & Williamson about addictive cigarettes, and their attempt to cover it up with confidentiality agreements signed by employees. I thought it was a great film, looking at it as a simple morality tale to always be honest and to tell the truth, but I'm still unsure about the story's stance on capitalism.

asked Dec 21 '13 at 22:47

Collin1's gravatar image

Collin1
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edited Dec 22 '13 at 12:46

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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In the film, for those who have not seen it, those big, bad, evil tobacco companies have made their employees sign a confidentiality agreement with regards to the experiments performed on their cigarettes to make them addictive, while at the same time the numerous CEOs of tobacco companies went before Congress and basically said that cigarettes are not addictive....

The film is based on a true story about Jeffrey Wigand, a whistleblower who appeared on 60 Minutes in the early 1990s to expose the lies made by a tobacco company called Brown & Williamson about addictive cigarettes....

The nature of cigarettes as addictive or not is not a proper subject for Congressional hearings. It is not a proper function of government to regulate cigarettes, nor other foods or drugs, including addictive narcotic drugs. If that principle had been accepted and followed, the basic premise of the movie would not have arisen.

This doesn't mean that making cigarettes addictive is morally good, but if anyone involved in that work has misgivings about the morality of it, they should resign. They would still be bound by their confidentiality agreements, and there might still be an incentive for them secretly to alert the news media that there is more to the story than the corporate spokesmen may have disclosed. Eventually the news media probably would ferret out the truth, publicize it, and prospective customers of the cigarette companies would be able to decide for themselves whether they still want to take in an addictive substance (of any kind, whether tobacco or some other drug).

The only possible legal issue that I can see in a free society with a proper government would be the potential for fraud, if a cigarette company executive actively misrepresents his product by telling the public that his tests show that the cigarettes are not addictive, when in fact the company knows otherwise and may even have intentionally designed the product to be addictive (perhaps successfully so). As part of a fraud investigation and prosecution, I can see the judicial process properly overriding the terms of any employee confidentiality agreement in matters that are relevant to the court proceeding.

The question also asks whether the movie is primarily an attack on capitalism or a morality play. I haven't seen the movie myself, but from the description of the movie which the question provides, the movie sounds like both. I.e., it is a depiction of big business as ugly and evil, and of how individuals of conscience might deal with that context. Such a movie is nothing new in the history of intellectual-artistic representations of capitalistic life.

answered Dec 23 '13 at 01:51

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Dec 21 '13 at 22:47

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Last updated: Dec 23 '13 at 01:51