Watching Leonardo DiCaprio play convicted stock market trader, Jordan Belfort, in The Wolf of Wall Street you can’t fail to feel his story. You admire his initial drive, his energy and zeal to win. Then of course, power corrupts and director, Martin Scorsese gives you both barrels of how utterly vile Belfort’s life gets. He becomes a drug, alcohol and sex addict. He finds loopholes to break financial and investment law and profits spectacularly. It’s a car crash as he plays the all-too-easy system in a hideous and feral chase for the high.
My wife joined me for the final 20 minutes of the movie and immediately asks, “Why are they portraying the guy as such a hero? They’re actually glorifying this ar$£*&le!”
I fear many will watch the whole movie and not think of the anti-hero as she did. That some will take only the excess, not the lesson. That the rags to riches story will drown out the debauchery and ugly reflection of Wall Street and this real-world Gordon Gecko.
When will Scorsese – or, more likely, Oliver Stone – make the movie that doesn’t just revel in how vile we’ve become, but what we could be? Where the up-and-coming politician or civil servant gets Dr King-style attention and changes our collective perspective.
We need articulate and rounded suggestions on tax, health care, education, community, and social welfare. The disparity of the 1% isn’t simply a matter of semantics. Obama has called it our great divergence showing a need to discuss alternatives to the tenants of capitalism. Occupy Wall Street may not have started a revolution but anti-austerity coupled with the growing aspiration of the squeezed middle is unlikely to make a happy future.
It’s undoubtedly a corrosive gap and one that this film highlights but doesn’t even pretend to answer other than hoping to repulse. So, come on @TheOliverStone, release the script that shows our better selves.
[Image from http://www.thewolfofwallstreet.com/]