Scorcese’s new film is an indictment of Western Society. It goes beyond greed alone even though Gordon Gecko is indeed mentioned in the film. Our main character seems to suffer from a deep, deep lack of morality. DeCaprio’s character experiences extremely exciting explicit debauchery that is super entertaining voyeuristic entertainment for the audience.
The character, Jordan Belfort, seems to become an addict to power and “money”. He repeatedly shoots himself in the foot in order to stay in the game of getting rich. He ruins relationships that he really does care about. After he gets a taste of “the good life” he is incapable of going back. He needs random sex for his ego and libido. He actually believes that random sex is a necessary healthy activity in order to be successful in the market.
It’s impossible to separate the personal immorality from the unethical financial trading practices being engaged in. DeCaprio’s character begins logical sounding soliloquys explaining the complex financial scam he and his cronies are running, but he inevitably pauses, assuming we in the audience aren’t actually following his dry train of thought or are unable to. He pauses, then kind of chuckles, saying basically, “look, what we did was illegal and it made us rich”.
He could explain to us, in detail, just how he duped people out of their cash, but wouldn’t it be much more fun( and much more telling) to use a metaphor such as blowing coke out of stripper’s ass? One of the points here seems to be that the temptation of being rich is sort of like any other dangerous addiction. An addict loses the ability to choose for himself. The drug($) chooses for him and takes total control.
The most horrifying part of all this is that, in the end, our ant-hero is rewarded by the awe and respect of wannabe assholes. He does a little time after his day in court, but returns to the world a hero of the money game. I feel sorry for the eager paying customers of his seminars. Sure the man is an excellent salesman, but is he happy? In the end he has no true friends or family. He does, however, have hoards of groupies ready to help him try to relive the High points of his career. What will they(we?) learn from him?
Just as the debauchery of the film serves as a metaphor to the business decisions of the main character, the film itself is a direct metaphor to our economic system as a whole. The entire thing is a scam. I could explain the logistics of the scam, but just in case you get bored, think really good drugs, wild sex and early death. But wait, the main character of the movie doesn’t die. He seems to experience a wonderful Heaven-on-Earth post-downfall afterlife. Well isn’t that Hollywood? Sure. But isn’t that also the way of market in modern times? Just when all looks bleak for the bankers and Moneymen, they get a reprieve in the form of a government bailout. They have the system rigged, our heroes(anti-) do.