Large corporations have long been an important part of genre fiction.
Often when the protagonist must struggle against an unfeeling world, that world is represented by a faceless conglomerate, a near-governmental corporation which seems to control facets of society wherever the character looks.
In Stock and Trade, our latest genre fiction feature series, we’ll be looking at corporations, and their various fictional incarnations, mostly in the speculative fiction subset. We’re starting with the quintessential unfeeling, exploitative mega-corp, Weyland -Yutani .
Weyland-Yutani is the ever-present "Company" the characters must oppose in the Alien franchise of films.
They play little direct role in the first film, other than to be a name on the characters uniforms, and a distant, mysterious employer, which the characters neverrefer to by name.
Actually the name on all the uniforms was "Weylan-Yutani"- which was simply intended to sound international, being the combination of a British and Japanese name; it was changed slightly for the second film, when the characters had to start dealing directly with the company, and even say the name a few times.
In the retro-canon of the story-world, Weyland-Yutani becomes an illuminati-level force, with its hands in almost every major technology and human event in the galaxy. It is revealed at various points that the company even owns the earth’s military force, the Colonial Marine Corps., considering them just another investment, a "military-branch" of their technology holdings.
Formed from a partnership between the Weyland Industries, and a mysterious Ms. Yutani, Weyland-Yutani quickly bought up control of almost every Human technology firm and research company including Borgia industries, which had been developing weaponry based on stolen Predator devices, and marketing them as Prometheus Tech.
Borgia’s obsession with obtaining alien technology became part of the Weyland-Yutani business model, and mostly, when we see them in the films, they are working toward the capture of alien creatures, most notably the Xenomorphs, the titular "aliens" of the franchise.
The company believes that advanced biological weaponry could be created from Xenomorph biology. They go about this goal with no concern for the safety of their people, even assigning them to unrelated missions in Xenomorph infested territories in the hopes that one of them will return home with a Xenomorph larva inside them, a condition which is most certainly fatal.
Bishop Weyland, the founder of the original Weyland Industries, while not as mysterious as Ms. Yutani, is still an enigmatic figure.
Most interesting is his seeming lack of care about monetary gain. The company itself, as all companies are, is vastly concerned with finance, and meeting the bottom line, but Weyland is only concerned with money as a means to an end.
It is his goal to use his company to make Humans the most powerful, dominant species in the cosmos, and anything that forwards that goal, any sacrifice necessary, is acceptable. This apathy toward the safety of others is apparent in every corner of his company, which has no problem using the lives of their employees to further profits.
As most corporations we’ll discuss in this series, Weyland-Yutani is a symbol of greed and apathy, and serves as a cautionary tale against consumption and corporate control. Their role in the story is as a sort-of shadow antagonist.
The Aliens are the immediate danger, and are the obvious challenge which the protagonists must overcome, but the aliens themselves are not evil, they are just beasts. They are no more evil than bears or dinosaurs are evil. The evil in the story, and thusly the irony, comes from the Humans’ own employers who put them in the line of fire over and over again in the name of advancement.
Come back tomorrow, when we’ll be taking a look at Vault-Tec. If you have an idea for a corporation we could feature in this series, let us know in the comments.