Aliens: Legal Conceptions of the Corporate Invasion

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Journal Article
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There has long been recognition that the criminal legal system has great difficulties in ascribing responsibility to corporations for harms caused and crimes committed. This article turns to the film Aliens (1986) to enrich the corporate criminal law imaginary. This article argues that the film Aliens delivers a complex representation of the evil corporation Weyland Yutani and a depressing, realistic depiction of our (low or lack of) expectations of law and justice for corporations. The film portrays the dehumanizing effect of the corporate form, an entity with legal personality but with almost no interest in humanity except as a means of labor and profit. Aliens depicts the routinization of harms, whereby the harms of Weyland Yutani are rendered banal and normal and not even categorized as criminal but just part of doing business. Despite holding up untrammeled rapacious inhuman exploitativeness for critique, no solution is proffered or even suggested. Aliens bleakly portrays the consequences of the legal failure of imagination in conceptualizing and attributing corporate responsibility. If law continues to regard corporations as monstrous, incomprehensible and capable of great systemic harms, then law can and should import the insights of horror and use extreme measures to resolve the corporation. Alternatively, we can recognize corporations as a fiction of our own creation and move the story and genre of corporations away from horror, and rewrite the corporation.
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