“Fishing With Dynamite” is a documentary film written and directed by Paul Wagner. It was released by Aspiration Entertainment and produced by American Focus, Inc. for the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics at the Darden School Of Business, University of Virginia.
The documentary is a financial and economic feature that focuses on “Capitalism in Crisis” and “explores the discontents affiliated with shareholder maximization, from risky/illegal company behavior, inflating CEO salaries to exacerbating the income gap.” They also discuss the benefits of shifting from a “shareholder” focus to a “stakeholder” focus. They interview several businessmen and women including Professor R. Edward Freeman who has written on the concept of “stakeholder.” This theory suggests that companies should focus on the workers, the customers, the vendors, and the shareholders as a whole to maximize long-term growth instead of short-term gains.
Now, I will admit that a few of the economic principles and models went a bit over my head, but those moments were very rare. The film does a good job of breaking down the subject matter in a way that explains the jargon instead of trying to shove it down the audience’s throat. This made it easy to keep up with what they were discussing and why it mattered to managers, shareholders, vendors, customers, or business tycoons as a whole.
The filmmakers interview several captains of industry including American Enterprise Institute former president Arthur Brooks and political commentator Robert Reich. The former considers himself a Conservative and the latter is a Liberal, but the documentary does a good job of highlighting where the two of them come together. That was a welcome breath of fresh air in a time when there are people divided by politics.
I did take issue with one thing. The documentary highlights several films where a businessperson is discussing how profits override everything that a company is supposed to do. Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is highlighted frequently. During one of these montages, an expert they interview blames the Charles Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol for the modern take on the “greedy businessman.” While it is true that Scrooge starts out that way, anyone with a passing familiarity with the story knows that the crotchety old man goes on a fantastic adventure through his past, present, and future to become redeemed. I doubt that anyone who has read the book or watched a movie based on it would come to the conclusion that Scrooge is connected to Gordon Gekko or any of the other characters presented as this trope.
That being said, the documentary does an excellent of presenting its case. Companies should focus on not only profit for their “shareholders” but also on growth as a business by establishing good relationships with their employees, vendors, and local communities. The film suggests that it starts with management and from there, companies can find a better way to bring their products, goods, and services to their consumers as a whole. That was presented very well and shown in a manner that was not confusing or condescending. That made it informative and education for anyone who might consider going into business.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my documentary reviews for Dream/Killer and The Rise of Jordan Peterson. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.