On the eve of this year’s Academy Award nominations, I wanted to take a sec to discuss something that’s been bugging me for a while now.
I’ve read so many articles that cry foul at The Wolf of Wall Street, saying the film glorifies the drugged-out hedonism of its multimillionaire (and decidedly amoral) protagonist, Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Right here is one such article, and here is an even stupider one. To them I say, bullshit. Sure, he screws the system and his clients out of billions, makes liberal use of midgets as party favors, and at one point snorts drugs out of a naked lady’s butt. Saying Jordan Belfort behaved badly is like saying Sarah Palin slept through Geography class: you ain’t kidding.
But saying The Wolf of Wall Street glorifies that behavior? No way. If you think that’s the case, you either a) haven’t seen the movie or b) are already inclined to glorify that behavior yourself and really need to look in the mirror. (Quick question: do you think Gordon “Greed… is good” Gecko was a hero in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street?)
The Wolf of Wall Street ends with Jordan Belfort talking about going to jail, but not really worrying about it because after all, he’s rich, and rich people don’t go to jail, they go to country club jail and chop garlic with razor blades and put too much onion in the tomato sauce. That’s a statement about a fucked up society, not a statement about how cool jail can be for people with extra cash. Then, after he gets out of jail, the very last shot of the movie takes place at a seminar in a hotel, where Jordan — a convicted felon well known by that time for defrauding investors out of tens of millions of dollars – is giving sales advice to an enraptured audience, a roomful of people willing to listen to this man – willing to do exactly what a convicted felon/drug addict tells them – because by hell, he made a few million dollars so he sure must know something, right? As the sales pitch flies, the camera drifts away from Leo, and the very last shot of the movie is on his audience — the people lapping it up. The people willing to listen to anything if it means they could get rich. So, guess what that shot’s all about?
*** END SPOILERS ***
It sure ain’t glorifying Jordan Belfort’s wicked ways. It’s making a point about our society. More exactly, it’s asking a question: in what kind of society do people pay money to take the advice of an idiot like that?
Anyway, like I said, it’s been bugging me.
And I don’t know if it’s even going to get nominated, but The Wolf of Wall Street is your Best Picture of 2013. By ten miles.
Back to your regular programming.