Erin Brockovich Term Paper

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Erin Brockovich directed by Barry Sorenson. Specifically it will discuss technological systems and ethics throughout the film, and their implications for society. Erin Brockovich is a disturbing drama about ethics and ethical issues in society. It clearly illustrates how these issues can break down society if it allows them to. What is more disturbing is the issues in the film were essentially true and did occur. Ethics in America and American business is still a contentious issue today, and you cannot trust big business to always do what is right for the people, as this film shows. This film ties in closely with the violations so many businesses and business leaders have used in the past to line their own pockets while systematically destroying their companies. These violations were ethically and morally wrong, but greed became more important than common sense and common decency. Ethically, it seems people are easily swayed by money and power, and this is the main cause of ethics violations here and around the world.

Because this even actually occurred in the 1980s, there is surprisingly little technology employed throughout the film. There are cell phones (with no signal), some computers, but most of the lawyers office depends on file clerks such as Brockovich to comb though an excess of records and make sense of them. The technology gets about as advanced as a photocopy machine. PG& E. uses outmoded technology at their plant, too. The holding ponds should have been lined to prevent groundwater contamination, but they were not. Therefore, PG& E. placed people in jeopardy because of old, outmoded technologies. The implications of this lack of technology are quite clear. The people of Hinkley, CA might have gone on dying and never blamed PG& E. However, a humble file clerk just happened to stumble upon evidence and acted on it. This means that sometimes technology is unnecessary and common sense is the most important technology available in certain situations.

This film is literally full of ethical concerns for society and for individuals. The film opens with Brockovich trying desperately to land a job she is not qualified for. She will tell the doctor just about anything if he will give her the job. Her main concern is feeding and housing her children, and she will stop at little to accomplish that. The courtroom scene where the high-paid lawyer defends his doctor client also sets the stage for the ethical violations to come. It does not matter if the low-paid wage earner was in the right; the doctor has enough money to defend himself and his erratic driving. It is a classic case of money beating out ethics, and the same thing would have happened with PG& E. And the people of Hinkley if Brockovich had not dug deeper into the real estate files. The ethics lesson here is that in most societies, those with money hold most of the power. It is rare that the underdog can win out against a massive "$28 billion company" as PG& E. Usually their money and their power can buy them out of most problems before they become public. The ethics of this is simple. The people do not matter to the company. Only their profits and own security matters. It seems like the ethics of post-Katrina New Orleans, when it was dog-eat-dog and every person out for their own survival. If society continues in this vein than it cannot survive, for there is no reward for ethical behavior and there is no trust between any of society's members.

As noted, this film contained a long line of ethical dilemmas and solutions. Brockovich left her children with "the chicken fat lady" because she could not afford alternative health care. Her boss grudgingly gave her a job, but with "no benefits" when he knew she had three children to support. Her boss fired her for not reporting to work without anyone bothering to find out what she was really doing. She relied on a near stranger to take care of her children when "the chicken fat lady" disappeared. This woman dumped off three children with no one to look after them. The list of ethical dilemmas goes on and on. What the film illustrates is that people face thousands of ethical dilemmas every day, and that…[continue]

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