Often when the protagonist of a speculative narrative 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.
So in Stock and Trade, our latest genre fiction feature series, we’re looking at fictional corporations. Today, we’re featuring MomCorp.
MomCorp is the large conglomerate which seems to have its hand in every industry in the story-world of Futurama. The owner and CEO of the company, a woman known only as "Mom" is also emotionally invested with one of the primary characters.
The founding of the company is mostly untold, but the canon reveals that Mom took over the Friendly Robot Company, which supplied most of the world’s robots, around 2920 as a way to provide capital for other investments.
The company expanded dramatically fifty years later, after the Democratic Order of Planets commissioned the company to produce all of the robots for the mining of Dark Matter on Vergon 6.
The profits of that operation allowed Mom to expand her holdings into other industries, including transportation, shipping, appliances, pharmaceuticals, euthanasia, toys, and telecommunications, all held under a central, MomCorp banner.
Robots remained their biggest profits, however, until the Robot Emancipation Proclamation which freed robots from slavery, allowing them to be constructed, but not to be sold directly, only contracted, and only by their own will. After that, MomCorp had to concentrate on its other industries more heavily, and Mom became more obsessive than she already was.
The most interesting stories of MomCorp, however are from back in the Mom’s Friendly Robot era. Professor Farnsworth, the show’s senile, benevolent, mad-scientist protagonist, worked for the company on several different occasions. Each time he got into a conflict with Mom, who he was also in a relationship with each time.
The first time was when Farnsworth invented the Q.T. McWhiskers toy, a cat that shot rainbows from its eyes when petted. Mom, in a bout of greed, demanded that he alter the robot, so that it could be used as a weapon. When Farnsworth refused, it was the end of his employment and their relationship.
He returned only a few years later to design more robots, and he finally created a robot which was, for the first time, practical and agile. Unfortunately, they also produced massive amounts of pollution. Farnsworth wanted to redesign the robots, but Mom wanted them released as they were, and he left a second time. These robots became the design foundation upon which almost all future robots were built, but as Farnsworth had lost his position with the company, he also lost any credit for the design.
The third time he works for a stint at the company, the falling out is mostly emotional, as Farnsworth discovers her in an affair with one of his former students. After leaving this time, he never returns, starting up his own company instead, one which competes with MomCorps’ interplanetary delivery service. There are some clues that at least one of Mom's sons was with Farnsworth.
The company’s place in the story is a bit shallow. As almost all other elements of Futurama, MomCorp is presented mostly as a parody. Each time MomCorp appears, it is serving as a parody of a different real-world corporation. Most famously, the company released an eyePhone, which was used in attempt to take over people’s brains. This flexibility unfortunately robs the writers of the ability to use the company as anything more than a gag.
Come back tomorrow, when we’ll be taking a look at InGen. If you have an idea for a corporation we could feature in this series, let us know in the comments.