As an avid watcher of documentaries, it was only a matter of time until I stumbled upon ‘Downfall’ on Netflix. The starting had me hooked, only for the ending to horrify me.
‘Downfall’ visually portrayed the two consecutive crashes of Boeing Airplanes detailing the causes and consequences, before and after. But in watching the documentary, a scary reality came to light; a reality of capitalism and its profit-minded disregard of external costs and the sole motive of profit.
This sparked enough curiosity in me for me to trace the seemingly non-existent history of similar events. Now, that doesn’t suggest that events like these don’t occur, rather that they’re covered up so well that the occurrence itself cannot be found. And now, this documentary will act as my spear of facts to corroborate my point.
A start up is usually aimed at making profit, therefore a small scale gradually becomes large scale to lower average costs. Product planning, production, marketing and consistent brand strategy helps business grow nationally and internationally. Sometimes lowering the average costs doesn’t necessarily mean reducing negative externalities as depicted in the documentary where the merger of Boeing led to a shift in focus from consumer satisfaction to profit motivation. Costs reduced, but at the expense of high quality products, offices and jobs. Complaints about inefficacy of flights were ignored with rather glib attitudes. Jobs were threatened if complaints of informing legal authorities arose from employees or contracted workers.
In order to compete with Airbus and gain greater market share, Boeing released a new model- ‘Max 737 Jetliner’. This move served to cause the loss of 600 lives in the span of a mere three months. As the new model had a new feature which caused the plan to dip forward and if not fixed in 10 seconds could cause a crash. Despite the board members being aware of this flaw refused flight test simulation which is a must. Therefore, we can see how profit motive in capitalism disregards human lives, leading to tragedies.
Families lost loved ones and houses were left uninhabited, all because Boeing wanted greater profits and failed to train the pilots in the new technicalities of the aircraft through test simulations.
In the aftermath of the crashes, Boeing blamed the pilots and refused to present documents for several months, denying any corporate fault.
And yet, this is not what horrified me the most. The CEO, Dennis Muilenburg in power during these events, a man aware of the happenings in his company, felt no remorse and took no accountability till the end. Instead, he retired with an award and 600 million dollars. Dennis Muilenburg gave diplomatic answers despite knowing the truth after constant grilling by US lawmakers.
At one point during the hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal called the boeing airplanes, “flying coffins”. During the hearing, Dennis Muilenburg was no more the CEO of Boeing and had been “stripped” off his position, due to his keen sense of responsibility. It makes me think, how the “sense of responsibility” only appears when you are sitting a courtroom with cameras all around you.
This is a one of many incidents where incidents have been hushed up by capitalists. Very few know about how Abercrombie and Fitch discriminated while employing workers by banning store staff from having dreadlocks, ranking employees on skin color and appearance. For this it faced a trial in 2015 and argued that is was legal to deny employement due to her headscarf because the religious garment violated its “look” policy. Although they lost in 8-1 ruling. The then CEO Jeffries retired after which the company changed its track, to making inclusivity its brand. As if a tactic to make consumers forget about their discriminatory history.
This documentary showed me the cruel reality of the outside world, the selfishness of humans and the complete disregard of kindness.