Marc Whitacre Informs on Himself
The brilliant movie The Informant with Matt Damon starring as Marc Whitacre, reveals the machinations of a truly sociopathic corporate cog working for Archer Daniels Midlands a conglomerate in Decataur, Illinois. Whitacre blazed across national headlines in 1995 when, as president of the BioProducts Division at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) he was arrested for embezzling $9 million of ADM’s investments. The truly bizarre spin on Whitacre’s story however is that for 3 years he worked with the FBI as an undercover informant, supposedly blowing the whistle on ADM for price-fixing lysine on a multinational scale. Needless to say Whitacre lost his immunity and spent 8 1/2 years in federal prison for his own crime.
Two doctors later diagnosed Whitacre as suffering from manic-depression (or bipolar disorder). It was Whitacre’s argument his prison sentence was unjust because of his mental instability at the time of his crimes. Possibly. Bipolar disorder tends to be punctuated by extreme mood swings between mania and depression. It can indeed involve a serious psychosis but when applied to the Whitacre case it doesn’t seem to hold up. Three years of living in a delusional psychosis without intermittent moments of reality seems like a long time to me. It is more likely that the Whitacre portrayed in the film has more merit: a pathological liar enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. Whitacre’s claim that mental illness explains his behaviour is far too superficial. It is merely another bold attempt to elicit sympathy and manipulate the law, typical traits of a sociopath and a con man.
Whitacre’s achievement was not in working as a mole blowing the whistle on ADM. It lies in confirming the pathological stereotype most of us have about high-ranking corporate cogs, better known as snakes in suits. If ADM has anything to be embarrassed about it lies in the number of embezzlements committed by several of their higher-ups aside from Whitacre. Whitacre informed on himself every bit as much as ADM. It makes for interesting media copy. It made a respectable profit (won’t touch that) at the box office. Of course Whitacre was likely thrilled about his cinematic biography, regardless or perhaps because of his outlandish schemes. A sociopath can never get enough public exposure: notoriety, fame, it’s all the same to him.
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