• Beyond the Fantasy: Getting off the train once and for all

    On the artistic merit of Final Fantasy VII, and why it is found only after disregarding 75 percent of the game.
    by kotora in collaboration with Jiro and Jowy




    The case: a wrecked story
    Final Fantasy VII is a modern day tragedy, allowing us to take the fight to everything we hate about capitalism and win. Revolutionary for its day, it provides us with an experience of mimesis and catharsis that few games have been able to emulate. But there’s a catch, another tragedy in the game’s meta-narrative: after leaving Midgar, the plot quickly derails and becomes a horrible train-wreck. Most of Final Fantasy VII is garbage that only detracts from the rich experience found in the opening sections.

    I would like to present two theses about the value of FFVII as a work of art:

    • No other game in the Final Fantasy series provides a more pure reflection of capitalist society than FFVII does, and as such, provides us with the perfect cathartic experience
    • To get to FFVII’s true value as a work of art, we have to disregard everything after the initial Midgar section. Final Fantasy VII, as a work of art, begins and ends with Midgar.




    “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,
    but their inward significance.”
    - Aristotle on art


    Mimesis, catharsis and Greek art philosophy
    Some of you might be familiar with the ancient Athenian philosopher Plato and his allegory of the cave. According to Plato, what we consider to be the real world is nothing but a projection of the real world of Ideas. He considered art to be an imitation of a world that is already an imitation of a pure, ideal world. The old Greeks called this mimesis. Furthermore, he didn’t have a great impression of the popular theater tragedies of his time. Plato thought that the all the violence and emotions would have a negative influence on people, somewhat similar to those arguing against violence in video games today.

    His pupil, Aristotle, was slightly more positive, and prescribed the function of catharsis, or emotional cleansing, to art: because it imitates the real world, art allows us to experience the violence and drama in it, freeing us from these feelings in our real world. People would go see a tragedy in a theater and experience all the feelings of sadness and anger demonstrated by the characters, and then be relieved of these feelings after the play. By experiencing them in this fashion, people were freed from negative emotion. I would like to make a case for Midgar being the centrepoint of the game’s ability to grab our attention and channel our feelings throughout the game.



    This is FFVII.


    "Then why doesn't everyone move onto the plate?"
    "Dunno. Probably 'cuz they ain't got no money. Or, maybe..."
    "'Cuz they love their land, no matter how polluted it gets."

    - Cloud and Barret on the mind of a slum dweller


    Life in Midgar
    In Final Fantasy VII's Midgar, life below the ‘pizza’ is by no means easy. The plate above the densely populated slums blocks direct sunlight and causes the air quality to drop drastically. Mako reactors have been draining the fertility from the soil. On top of these environmental issues, citizens have monsters to contend with. It’s a rough view from the outside and the idea of an economic class-system is readily apparent. In Midgar, the upper classes live literally above the lower classes!

    The sectors are hardly a photorealistic depiction of real world slums. But through the setting and the NPCs, most of whom have only one or two lines, the world comes alive.

    What the game offers us is a world in which oppression, pollution and poverty have become a way of life. We see evidence of human trafficking, sexual slavery, prostitution, theft, and murder. But, despite the horrors that comes with life in the slums, the dwellers go on with their daily lives. Citizens are warm and friendly to each other, and many of the residents have a positive outlook on life. There’s different ethnic communities, entrepreneurs operating shops and scavengers collecting what they can from the upper level of society’s waste. There’s even a lively gay community.

    Despite the horrors that come with life in the slums, the dwellers go on with their daily lives; the slums are a vibrant community solely because of the spirit of the inhabitants. You would find a similar thing if you were to walk into a slum anywhere in our world, be it Rio, Karachi or Cape Town. The problems and the people we encounter in the slums are the symptoms of an unequal society where money and greed rule. Even as the player characters, we get dragged into some of these evils without being able to change anything. Don Corneo may be gone, but the conditions that create men like him still exist.



    It’s not hard to imagine Cloud running through these streets. Just like in Midgar, all the slum dwellers have to do is look up and see a better world they’ll never be part of.

    FFVII offers no solutions for the societal problems of Midgar. Will destroying Shin-Ra improve the lives of these people? Will it take away the plate above their heads, will it root out the rampant crime, poverty and unemployment?

    No. But fighting Shin-Ra gives us the illusion that we might make things better.



    Not this guy. That's a derailment to discuss another day.

    "Oh boy!! Corel sure has gone to pot. It used to be a famous coal
    mining town!"
    "Got no job... I can't even show my face. 'Bout all that's left
    for me is to just live in this hole all day."

    - Bulldozer guy on how the system has made not just jobs, but people redundant


    Shin-Ra as a perfect representation of capitalism
    This is because Shin-Ra itself is a representation of this system, the very idea of capitalism dressed up as an energy company. Throughout its history, the corporation has expanded until it became the system itself.

    As a company, Shin-Ra has continually re-evolved and expanded into whatever is most profitable. Originally a small weapons manufacturer, Shin-Ra escalated into having its own personal “defense” force before making the shift into Mako energy. Even with the profitability of Mako, Shin-Ra still develops other technology -- cars, aircraft, etc -- which are used to further increase their profit; Shin-Ra wants to be your number one choice when it comes to all essential and luxury items. Shin-Ra is not just a monopolistic company. Shin-Ra is monopoly. It holds absolute economic power in the entire world of FFVII.



    Cloud in front of the Shin-Ra HQ. The symbolism is quite obvious.

    It built Midgar, it created the economic conditions that led to the existence of the slums, and it is responsible for the oppression of the poor and powerless in the world, as well as destroying the planet by exploiting it for energy. Shin-Ra is not a classical evil for the sake of being evil. Shin-Ra’s evil lies within its economic logic: all its actions are towards only one goal, maximizing profits. Even the search for the mythical ‘Promised Land’ is seen as nothing but an investment with near-unlimited returns. What better villain than one that represents the very system of exploitation in our world? Yet somehow, the game’s developers felt like that wasn’t enough.

    Amano’s logo for Final Fantasy VII shows us the meteor coming to destroy the planet. But FFVII’s meteor hasn’t always been the threat. Shin-Ra’s work was inevitably leading to the destruction of life on the planet. The meteor is just another materialisation of this idea, because it is a tangible, more immediate sense of danger, an insurmountable threat to the planet’s existence that’s right in everyone’s face. Is the existence of Meteor even necessary? Perhaps the game needs a physical threat that can actually be destroyed? Is destroying Shin-Ra, or rather capitalism, too impossible a task for the player to handle?




    "Why do you want to fight me?"
    "You seek the Promised Land and Sephiroth."

    - Cloud explaining to Rufus he has to derail the story


    The artistic merit of FFVII
    It is this representation, this very idea around which the plot is built, that elevates FFVII from a video game to a work of art. No other game in the series has managed to reproduce these qualities! There have been some attempts at showing inequality and poverty in other games in the main-entry FF series, like the divide between Zozo and Jidoor and the politics of imperial hegemony in Final Fantasy VI, or the issues of discrimination and social exclusion in FF9 (the black mages) and FF10 (the Al Bhed and Guado) . But none of the other games come close to giving us such a powerful impression of an exploitative society. It’s not because it is necessarily accurate, but because the representation of the ideas resonate so well with our own. We get to fight the very idea of capitalism and feel like we won!

    That is, until Sephiroth comes in and hijacks the plot, to the rejoice of fanboys and fangirls worldwide. That’s when the plot completely derails - from the moment he is introduced, the game turns into a wild goose chase, one which is given no rationale or explanation until much later. Chasing Sephiroth and Jenova: they’re distractions that the story doesn’t need. That isn’t a bad thing in itself - stories can take different directions.

    But in this case, they do not enhance the plot. They change it, rewriting Final Fantasy VII in a less creative way, and pandering to the teenage fans who wanted to see another typical JRPG villain. We went from saving the world from an idea of evil that we all understand and see in our daily lives, to saving the world from a villain who doesn’t even have any motives that are relatable for humans - and with that change, the perfect mimesis of our capitalist society falls apart, only returning briefly during plot segments related to Shin-Ra Corporation’s exploits.


    We save the game's value as a work of art.

    "But you gotta understand that there ain't no gettin' offa this
    train we're on, till get to the end of the line."

    - Barret on why everybody went down with the plot as it crashed and burned


    Final examination of the wreck
    Mimesis is not something that defines whether anything is a work of art - but it certainly is the case for FFVII, because there is no artistic merit in the rest of the game. No other RPG, nay, no other video game has given us such a simple, but impressive and clear view of our capitalist society. FFVIIs dialogue provides the bare minimum to carry a story. There is very little to no depth nor development to most characters. But that is not important to the quality of the game. It presents us a very distilled, pure story about capitalism. This is an experience that Squaresoft - now Square Enix - has not proven to be capable of emulating or repeating.

    Unfortunately, this representation is shoved into the background the second Sephiroth is introduced, a pretty-haired bore not even in control of his own actions, a puppet driven entirely by a powerful alien entity. The story is warped into a magical goose chase, and while we are treated to various obscure and exotic locales, imagery and plot elements, the experience as a whole feels vapid and shallow, because there is nothing behind it. Action and excitement exist, but their purpose is superficial - it exists because it entertains, not because it has true purpose or merit. Art becomes kitsch. In order to take back the art, we have to reject everything that happens after the Midgar portion of the game, especially the Sephiroth plotline. If we do this, Final Fantasy VII stands as an impressive piece of art, retaining relevance to modern issues and challenging ideals in a unique format.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Beyond the Fantasy: Getting off the train once and for all started by kotora View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Sephiroth's Avatar
      Sephiroth -
      Quote Originally Posted by kotora View Post
      Unfortunately, this representation is shoved into the background the second Sephiroth is introduced, a pretty-haired bore not even in control of his own actions, a puppet driven entirely by a powerful alien entity.
      Says who? John Brittenham? Final Fantasy VII and Square Enix don't, neither Hojo who was the only one who found out the truth, nor the Ultimania Omega and also not On the Way to a Smile - Black Lifestream. Project your consciousness into ther bodies and get an indestructable will and there is no question of being a puppet.
    1. Shawn R's Avatar
      Shawn R -
      It's basically how I feel about VII. Outside of the opening of the game the story did nothing for me except for that short time when Cloud became handicapped.
    1. Jinx's Avatar
      Jinx -
      I dunno if you actually got the memo, but there ain't NO gettin' offa this train we on.
    1. Raistlin's Avatar
      Raistlin -
      Very well-written and thoughtful piece. As I mentioned to you before, I think most main-entry FFs suffer from cliche overplots, stereotypically evil villains, and a lack of compelling, meaningful storylines. FFT and FFXII are notable exceptions to this, as is the first part of FFVII. Not only do you have a horribly exploitative, corporate-ruled society, but you have the addition of the "good guys" effectively committing acts like modern-day terrorism, with bombings that put civilians at risk, which is very morally complex. What I'm not sure of, however, is how meaningful the FFVII writers intended these messages to be, especially considering how haphazardly they treated the plot for the rest of the game. Do you have any thoughts on that?

      I do disagree that the rest of FFVII lacks any artistic merit, because "artistic merit" is a very broad term; as a near free speech absolutist, I don't think we can make those sorts of broad judgments. But I would agree that most of the rest of FFVII is much more lacking of allegorical or symbolic merit.

      Also, congratulations to kotora for having his first article published on EoFF's frontsite. Hopefully this is not the last we hear from him.
    1. kotora's Avatar
      kotora -
      Raistlin: I was wondering the same question about the messages. It just doesn't add up because the first section of the game is so strong, whereas it appears that for the rest of the game the writers didn't really want us reflecting on our own actions or giving us a world we can relate to anymore by giving us a storyline involving the same end goal (save the planet), but without the moral ambiguity.

      Granted, we did get some sections that were pretty strong in essence, such as Barret's hometown being the victim of capitalist exploitation (right next to a decadent amusement park!), but they didn't really serve any other purpose than as backdrops for our Tour de Sephiroth.
    1. Bolivar's Avatar
      Bolivar -
      This article is multiple pages about how great the opening is, and one paragraph on how the rest of the game is bad, with no evidence to back it up other than your insistence that it must be so. You don't deny that the flashback was a creepy small-town horror story, Cosmo Canyon an emotional story of forgiveness, or that the observatory tapes revealed a haunting tragedy of Professor Gast and Ifalna.

      You also overlook how Sephiroth embodies and reinforces the socio-economic themes of the opening as their darkest manifestation - when the monsters created in the name of progress and reason come back to haunt them.

      It's ironic, because in your efforts to laud a game for its deep themes, you expose yourself as oblivious to the extent at how deep it goes. FFVII is a critique of Western (capital L) Liberal society as a whole, not just capitalism.
    1. maybee's Avatar
      maybee -
      Quote Originally Posted by kotora View Post
      Unfortunately, this representation is shoved into the background the second Sephiroth is introduced, a pretty-haired bore not even in control of his own actions, a puppet driven entirely by a powerful alien entity.
      Agree. Well said.

      Sephiroth is no Kefka and Kuja.
    1. krissy's Avatar
      krissy -
      back when i didnt have a memory card i'd replay the midgar sequence every week for a few months
      never got out of it cause i didn't understand materia
      i wonder how it affected me philosophically
      narf
    1. Raistlin's Avatar
      Raistlin -
      Obviously, it turned you into a filthy communist, krissy.

      Quote Originally Posted by Bolivar View Post
      This article is multiple pages about how great the opening is, and one paragraph on how the rest of the game is bad, with no evidence to back it up other than your insistence that it must be so. You don't deny that the flashback was a creepy small-town horror story, Cosmo Canyon an emotional story of forgiveness, or that the observatory tapes revealed a haunting tragedy of Professor Gast and Ifalna.

      You also overlook how Sephiroth embodies and reinforces the socio-economic themes of the opening as their darkest manifestation - when the monsters created in the name of progress and reason come back to haunt them.
      I agree with some of your specific criticisms, but I disagree with the conclusions you draw from them. I agree that kotora could have stood to lengthen the piece a bit and give more specific examples from the game. I also agree that he was much too broad in is assertion that there is "no artistic merit" in the rest of the game, which is something I pointed out before the piece was published. Art is a very broad term, and justifiably encompasses the rest of the game for a variety of reasons. However, I do agree with kotora's underlying focus that most of the rest of the game is substantially more lacking in allegorical or symbolic merit, and disagree with you that Sephiroth "reinforces and embodies" the socio-economic themes of Midgar. Sephiroth had the potential for much more, but turned into your standard destroy-the-world JRPG villain.

      As for your other examples (Cosmo Canyon, etc.), while I agree that they are art and have artistic merit, they lack the allegorical merit that I believe was kotora's real focus. The only other part of the game that really continued the Midgar themes was Corel, which probably did deserve mentioning.
    1. Jinx's Avatar
      Jinx -
      I just read this whole thing, and I'm having a hard time figuring out if this is an article actually about FFVII, or just about how much you hate capitalism.
    1. Bolivar's Avatar
      Bolivar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raistlin View Post
      The only other part of the game that really continued the Midgar themes was Corel, which probably did deserve mentioning.
      What about Junon? It has the same juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, the marginalization of local culture in favor of industrialism, and, most importantly, the Parade: a gilded celebration of the achievements of modernity and progress even as it's being undone by its own mistakes (and behind closed doors, you see that Shinra knows it).

      Then VII spends the rest of the game showing how capitalist societies eventually destroy themselves. All of Shinra's mistakes come back to haunt them, from Sephiroth to WEAPON to Avalanche, and the weapons they created are useless to defend themselves. We see their desperate attempts to survive - cannibalizing their last remnants of idealism (the space program) and attempts to prevent panic by executing scapegoats, and even that blows up in their faces.

      The self-unraveling of capitalism is the majority of the game, and you have to argue away its existence to claim allegory ends with Midgar.
    1. Skyblade's Avatar
      Skyblade -
      Quote Originally Posted by kotora View Post
      Final examination of the wreck
      Mimesis is not something that defines whether anything is a work of art - but it certainly is the case for FFVII, because there is no artistic merit in the rest of the game. No other RPG, nay, no other video game has given us such a simple, but impressive and clear view of our capitalist society.
      Really? "Our" capitalist society? I seem to be living in a very different society than you. Because in my case, exploitative practices by companies attempting to tear the most money out of their consumers has in fact led to continual collapse of said companies. That is has been government interference (in the form of subsidization and bailouts) that have kept these companies going, rather than capitalism, which is, by definition, private, not government control of businesses. Which, by the way, also leads to a very interesting argument that Shinra cannot be based on capitalism at all, since Shinra is the government of FFVII's "world".

      FFVIIs dialogue provides the bare minimum to carry a story. There is very little to no depth nor development to most characters. But that is not important to the quality of the game. It presents us a very distilled, pure story about capitalism. This is an experience that Squaresoft - now Square Enix - has not proven to be capable of emulating or repeating.
      Um, no. The story has nothing to do with capitalism. The story is a multilayered, multifaceted one that has a great deal of character development and a number of different focuses. Shinra isn't about capitalism and the raw acquisition of wealth at all, it's about acquisition and control of power, which is a very different thing. Heck, the game sums this up for you perfectly in the Shinra building, as explained by both Rufus and his father.

      President Shinra ran the world with money. He used money as a tool, not to get more money, but to control the populace. He would write off huge projects (including an eighth of Midgar itself) simply to manipulate people's feelings and keep them under control. He didn't care about the money itself, only how it let him control the people.

      Rufus, on the other hand, had a different method of operations. He controlled people through fear and military might. The Shinra army, the Turks, SOLDIER. They're his tools, and he uses them to control the populace, much like the vast majority of dictators in the real world.

      And this is simply one aspect of the game's story. It is not the heart of it, nor is it the only part with merit. And, admittedly, the storyline aspect of the chase of Sephiroth up until the Temple of the Ancients is relatively shallow. But story is not the only thing going on in this game. You're completely ignoring world building, including aspects of it that you use to make your own case. Corel, Junon, Cosmo Canyon, Wutai. These places have very little impact on the "story", but they have a huge impact on defining the world that the game is building, and defining the bounds of Shinra's corruption and lust for control.

      Unfortunately, this representation is shoved into the background the second Sephiroth is introduced, a pretty-haired bore not even in control of his own actions, a puppet driven entirely by a powerful alien entity. The story is warped into a magical goose chase, and while we are treated to various obscure and exotic locales, imagery and plot elements, the experience as a whole feels vapid and shallow, because there is nothing behind it. Action and excitement exist, but their purpose is superficial - it exists because it entertains, not because it has true purpose or merit. Art becomes kitsch. In order to take back the art, we have to reject everything that happens after the Midgar portion of the game, especially the Sephiroth plotline. If we do this, Final Fantasy VII stands as an impressive piece of art, retaining relevance to modern issues and challenging ideals in a unique format.
      Final Fantasy VII stands as a piece of art anyway.

      You say that there is no character development? What about when Cait Sith challenges Barret on his status as a terrorist? What about Cloud's entire mental breakdown and his internal battle with Septhiroth's will? What about Cid, the fulfillment of his dreams and his realizations about Shera and Shinra? What about Red XIII and his interactions with his family and Bugenhagen's death?

      Then too, what about the world itself? What about the richness of its development, and the questions it asks about the world merely through the way it's built? It was the world of FFVII that prompted you to ask many of these questions, not the story. It was Midgar's slums and high rises, Wutai's decline after the war, Corel's troubles, and Junon's slums and police state that led to this, and anything that can inspire so much thought merely through how it sets itself up certainly has an argument for being "art".

      There's more to a game than its story, and there's more to a story than its political commentary.




      If anything, FFVII's story is one of corruption, in almost every area of society, and explored from different angles. The various stories within the game all resonate to this theme:

      -Hojo and Gast highlight a story of corruption in science, of jealousy and lust for results corrupting and destroying the truth of science. Gast shows the benefits of science, the discoveries which lead him to understanding of the knowledge of Jenova, of the threat it presents, and the nature of the WEAPONs. But Hojo represents the opposite. He destroys Gast and denies his work, throws away truth because it was the work of the mentor he despises, and his lies, poor methodology, and inherently flawed results throw the world into a downward spiral.

      -The Turks, Heideggar, and Scarlet reflect stories of corruption in the military. Again, we get different sides to this debate. The Turks, trying to be professional, do their jobs, and get on being decent people. While Heideggar and Scarlet are megalomaniacal leaders obsessed with warfare and superweapons, whatever the cost to others.

      -Reeve and President Shinra give us a view on corruption in government. Reeve is a government official who took a job and sticks with it just because he wants to help people, and sees this is one of the only ways he can do so. Whereas President Shinra and Rufus see the government as a tool for the acquisition of power and control.

      -Aeris and Sephiroth represent corruption of religion. Sephiroth is like a cult leader, convinced of his own superiority, of his "right" to claim whatever power he wants. Aeris, on the other hand, is a more traditional churchgoer, one of the few truly faithful characters in gaming, and also understanding of her own ability to help make the world a better place.

      -Dio and Don Corneo give us a view of corruption of wealth on the individual level. Both use their incredible wealth for their own entertainment, yet there is a staggering difference between the two. Dio creates a theme park where people can come and relax in a world of hardships, while Don Corneo creates a hedonistic pleasure palace.

      -And, of course, Shinra gives us the view of the corruption of corporations and the raw power of corporate greed. It's counterbalances are all over the place, but fairly minor, so it's hard to pin down specific ones. Palmer (as comical as he might be) and the space program are one example, a desire to use the corporate gains for a project that is beneficial and idealistic.


      Corruption of corporations is only one of many, many themes addressed by this story. If anything, I'd say that FFVII's claims on the problems of corporate greed are one of the story's weakest points, because it offers very little in the way of serious counterbalance. It shows no alternative, offers little to no side of the good that corporations can (and have) done. For a major capitalistic corporation, you'd think Squaresoft would have had little trouble espousing the benefits of a corporation, yet they fall woefully short, presenting us with only an overly clichéd and flawed look at a single extreme of a very multifaceted problem.
    1. LadyJuxtaposition's Avatar
      LadyJuxtaposition -
      Surprisingly, I can relate some parts of FFVII to the world we live in (I thought about the Mako and Lifestream as limited resources like fossil fuels and natural gas). This is an interesting and thorough article; I got to learn some things that never crossed my mind. What you said about the symbolism behind the Meteor logo provided me a new outlook behind the design.
      I was wondering: what about the prequels and sequels, like Crisis Core and Adveny Children? So those games have connections relating to capitalism and inequality?
    1. Skyblade's Avatar
      Skyblade -
      I've been thinking about this a bit more, and I'm going to go a bit further.

      Not only have you drastically short changed the rest of the game, but you've missed both the message and the "merit" of the first section of the game.

      You are completely focused on Shinra as this huge, evil mega corporation destroying the planet, and completely ignoring what the game shows you throughout half of the Midgar section, which is the humanization of the Shinra company.

      You've completely ignored the train station employees, the security guards, or pretty much everyone in the Shinra building, to focus only on the pathetic stereotypical dictatorship of the big five (President Shinra, Rufus, Heideggar, Scarlet, and Hojo).

      What about all the other employees? The poor item shop girl, who reacts the same way anyone would if a terrorist organization burst into their store literally with guns blazing? The paper pushing secretary who is trying to earn his way up the ladder so he can have a bigger impact and do more good for the world? The poor girl who just wishes her male coworkers would stop hitting on her? The security guards who won't leave their post, even when they know it's about to cost them their lives?

      The story of Shinra isn't one of a crusade against capitalism, or the evils of huge corporations, it's the story of a company filled with real people, trying to get by in the world, and most of them wanting to stay true to their beliefs or ideals and make the world a better place.

      The cautionary tale is not related to capitalism at all, but rather one of the dangers of unchecked power, and what it can lead to.
    1. Skyblade's Avatar
      Skyblade -
      Evil Inc and Mega Corp.

      Stereotypical, one sided, overly extremist, and completely ridiculous. And it's still considered "art" by today's gamers. How sad.

      Some quotes if you are too lazy to read through it.

      Rarely are Mega Corporations portrayed with anything other than unremitting negativism; rather than being a simple business making things that people want to buy, they are almost invariably the villains of the setting, and depicted as exploitative, oppressive and screwing the rules with their money while maintaining a Peace & Love Incorporated façade. They are home to the Corrupt Corporate Executive, Mean Boss, Pointy-Haired Boss, and Obstructive Bureaucrat, and usually have Amoral Attorneys on the payroll.
      Mega Corporations are shown to be private institutions and therefore don't have to play by most rules the government has to, such as freedom of speech, because it's always "nobody is forcing you to work for them or buy from them or use their institutions or buy their products." However, more darker versions will also show these guys pretty much buying off or eliminating their competitors, brainwashing the masses, and coming up with Evil Plans to ensure they have a monopoly and making it so that you still have to buy their products, while their employees are sometimes portrayed as oppressed, paid pitifully low wages (if at all), and treated as expendable.
      They may also be shown controlling the government either through having employees in important positions or through lobbying, or taken to its extreme, may have Private Military Contractors or other Hired Guns (or even an entire country or world) at their disposal, and become Superpowers in their own right. Corporate Warfare may result if financial means are not enough to accomplish the company's goals.
      Ooh, also this one:

      Quote Originally Posted by One Nation Under Copyright View Post
      A Mega Corp is often a large, shadowy organization with a power base and structure that rivals even The Government. When you take it one step further, with the Mega Corp actually being the government, you get One Nation Under Copyright, or a "corporate state."
      Essentially, a corporate state is a government run and organized like a business. At the top is typically a board of executives (more likely than not corrupt in fiction) which makes all the decisions; for the common people, the terms "citizen" and "employee" are more or less interchangeable. Some may actually have a form of quasi-democratic government, allowing all shareholders a certain number of votes proportional to the number of shares the voter owns.
      One Nation Under Copyright may employ Law Enforcement, Inc., or even own them outright as a subsidiary.
      If taken to the extreme by the government owning everything, raises the question: "What's the difference between these and Dirty Commies?" Some might argue that this is the whole point. This idea—that "business runs government" and "government runs business" are basically the same—is at the heart of many, many populist and/or agrarian movements since at least the 19th century, e.g. G. K. Chesterton's "Distributism".
    1. silentenigma's Avatar
      silentenigma -
      Quote Originally Posted by Skyblade View Post
      Really? "Our" capitalist society? I seem to be living in a very different society than you. Because in my case, exploitative practices by companies attempting to tear the most money out of their consumers has in fact led to continual collapse of said companies. That is has been government interference (in the form of subsidization and bailouts) that have kept these companies going, rather than capitalism, which is, by definition, private, not government control of businesses. Which, by the way, also leads to a very interesting argument that Shinra cannot be based on capitalism at all, since Shinra is the government of FFVII's "world".
      This a million times over. Capitalism ≠ Corporatism. Shinra the weapons manufacturer was only able to become Shinra the mega-corporation because their biggest customer was a government during wartime. (A government, of course, can use coercive means [taxes] to support essentially limitless spending - this is NOT capitalism.) Shinra further takes advantage of government's monopoly of force, not unlike corporations in our own society; a few decades and a bit of corruption later, the company has, for all intents and purposes, become the government.

      Quote Originally Posted by Skyblade View Post
      If anything, FFVII's story is one of corruption, in almost every area of society, and explored from different angles.
      A lot of great ideas here. From my point of view, FFVII's biggest theme is humanity's loss of spirituality and appreciation for life in the modern world, largely manifested in the examples of corruption you've given. Definitely much bigger than Midgar alone.
    1. Bolivar's Avatar
      Bolivar -
      I kind of stayed away from this thread because I really hate getting into disagreements with people and how it makes me feel about myself, but hot damn did Skyblade just rock this thread!
    1. Sephex's Avatar
      Sephex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bolivar View Post
      I kind of stayed away from this thread because I really hate getting into disagreements with people and how it makes me feel about myself, but hot damn did Skyblade just rock this thread!
      Oh, Snapiroth!
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