Why I’m Glad ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Is Making Everybody Mad

Published 8 months ago by

The Wolf of Wall Street Reactions Controversy Discussion Oscars Awards 2014 Why Im Glad Wolf of Wall Street Is Making Everybody Mad

People are mad about The Wolf of Wall Street. Their reasons aren’t the same – some people are offended at the film’s depiction of smut and debauchery; others are upset about how real-life swindler Jordan Belfort (played by Leo DiCaprio) is benefitting from the film; and other people are simply disgusted with the idea that Scorsese’s pageant of excess and degeneracy hits all-too-close to the reality of the Wall Street world.

But no matter which camp you fall into, let me just say: I’m happy you are mad. I’m happy you are worked up about Wolf of Wall Street - and I certainly hope you stay that way. I hope the video interviews, commentary articles and awards talk all go viral to the point where anxiety begins to grip you if you haven’t seen the movie yet. I want your every office or dinner party discussion to be hijacked by what is hopefully a long and honestly brutal and hopefully fruitful debate about the first big pop-culture movie topic of 2014.

Because the discussion is long overdue. And (personally speaking) I’ve been waiting patiently for it for a long time.

inside job CEO Why Im Glad Wolf of Wall Street Is Making Everybody Mad

Economist Paul Volcker in ‘Inside Job’

In fall of 2010, I went to see a documentary called Inside Job (read my review), which dissected the 2008 economic collapse on Wall Street. I walked out of that screening room furious and frightened, as the film clearly and succinctly showed that America’s worst recessions have not just been caused by failed policies, but are rather a symptom of a more clandestine disease in the moral makeup of the people who flock to the financial services industry.

To quote a section of my review:

Truly, some of Inside Job‘s best moments come from the unexpected detours Ferguson takes into the psychology and seedy private behavior of high-ranking Wall Street types. A definite pattern quickly emerges in which the same people who are thrilled by high-stakes investing and ludicrous greed are equally thrilled by money, drugs and prostitutes, often at taxpayer expense. The two worlds – financial services and illicit vice – seemingly go hand-in-hand.

To me (and other people who commented on Inside Job via our website) this revelation was a source of outrage – and eventually, a source of bewilderment in terms of public reaction. As in, there was none.

The film won a 2011 Oscar for Best Documentary and netted $4 million domestically ($3 million overseas) – but for all that fanfare, the deeper implications of Charles Ferguson’s film went unheeded: how an industry of money and greed (arguably run by madmen) has corrupted everything in US culture from politics to education.

But if I may borrow Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker voice: “Let Marty and Leo make a movie about the same thing, and everybody LOSES THEIR MINDS!

Joker Everybody Loses their Minds Why Im Glad Wolf of Wall Street Is Making Everybody Mad

Search for The Wolf of Wall Street on the Web/social media right now and you’ll find a hundred other op-eds like this one, written by more and more people who the film has provoked, one way or another. A few examples I came across (and liked):

People are talking and writing – and of course digitally yelling and freaking out – about this film, and I love it. If it takes a big movie star and iconic director rather than a thorough intellectual documentary, endless political debates and/or bloody social protests – so be it. I’m just glad this particular conversation about this particular value system and lifestyle at the heart of our “greed is good” culture is being had, and that people are getting involved.

As I said at the start: it’s long overdue. Any way out of complacency…

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill Wolf of Wall Street Interviews Why Im Glad Wolf of Wall Street Is Making Everybody Mad

Who knows, in the end it may be Marty, Leo, Jonah Hill – a whole lot of  drugs and a WHOLE lot of nudity – that finally motivate us from apathy to debate; debate into some kind of a actual action. Wouldn’t’ that just be poetic? Jonah Hill could help save America.

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READ: Wolf of Wall Street Review

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The Wolf of Wall Street is now playing in theaters.

You can watch Inside Job on Netflix streaming.

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  1. Mr Outlaw gets happy? This is a thing?

  2. Saw the headline on twitter and just knew this was a Kofi article. :)

    • Haha, likewise.

  3. Instead of having to get mad over Wolf of Wall Street, wouldn’t it be better if everyone just watched Inside Job instead?

    I mean, there have already been plenty of films about corporate greed. It’s not a mystery. The film Too Big to Fail was also a decent rendition of the story of the recent recession – albeit, from a different point of view so it wasn’t as critical about the people that caused it. Casino Jack (both the documentary and the Kevin Spacey film) also talked about the same kind of thing.

    I think most people just don’t know what they can do about it because many of the politicians that could try to prevent this kind of thing are themselves often part of the problem, so people basically go on with business as usual and feel powerless.

    • You said it perfectly!

  4. THANK YOU!

    But you forgot to work in the word “zeitgeist” somehow. Of all articles…

  5. What has been happening is a failure of the crony mercantile system. We really need to get government out of the business sector altogether. Not going to happen anytime soon.

  6. I love these posts Kofi, keep it up. Informative and funny.

  7. Kofi, you have a political opinion. Awesome to read this article. You need to keep the conversation going though.

  8. You should pucker your mouth a little more. Your nose isn’t quite brown enough.

    • hm?

  9. Amen..its means they care

  10. actually the only thing that bothered me was that Mr.Belfort only got 22 months, i loved the movie but the reality of it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • ^ To me that was the whole point of the movie. Marty showed how these reprehensible scumbags can swindle hundreds of millions of dollars from everyday people and then get sentenced lesser penalties than a nonviolent drug offender.

      • i understand that, thats why it left a bad taste…i loved it

    • I agree! Why didn’t he get 20 years, at the very least? Pisses me off!

  11. I saw “Inside Job” for the first time this year. I thought it was a provocative look at how our financial world is controlled by just a few people. Scary

    I need to see Wolf next.

  12. Not only do I agree with what Kofi has said here I think another reason people are having such a hard time with the movie is because it challenges you as a viewer.
    Over and over throughout the movie if felt to me as if Scorsese was testing the limits of the audience itself, asking is this enough? If not, is this too far? Are you still laughing? Yeah, how bout now?
    I normally don’t see many movies more than once at the theater but I went to see this a second time and was fascinated while watching the audience reaction. From the start you could see those who were uncomfortable and not laughing and slowly but surely as time went by those who were laughing started to less and less.

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    Fast forward to the very last shot of the movie the shot of the audience with their mouths open looking almost hypnotized. I guarantee if a snapshot was taken of every theater audience that went to see this movie it would look exactly the same.

  13. This movie is phenomenal. I’m a middle class guy and think it is just great. I have to believe that many people hate it because it hits home to real life for them. They’re mad that they can’t have the nice life and things that rich people do. I’m not anywhere near being rich or even well off at this point in my life, but never envy rich people. That is reserved for democrats.

    • Are you saying that people are pissed because they envy the rich?!? I don’t have a problem with rich people who get that way honestly, with hard work. I have a problem with people who get that way by lying, cheating, and stealing like Belfort did. What a selfish immoral human being he was and still is. If you support that, then you are one really sick republican!

  14. Didn’t know that there was so much controversy about this movie,all quite here in the asian front ! Maybe its just a internet thing and some sites reacting,the intellectual people who care and talk politics ! Normal people care not much about it !

  15. I dont know why people are mad I havent seen the film but I like a article written out of spite.

  16. BS a side … This is a great movie to watch in my opinion ..

  17. The sad part is, even if it has them talking now, its just the current thing.
    Soon a Duck Dynasty character will say something hillbillyish or some pop tart will twerk her non-existent buttocks off on Mtv and all will be forgotten.

    Such is the way of America.

    • haha! sooo true!

  18. Great article Kofi.

    I honestly think the reason some of those people are mad about this movie is they aren’t aware or intelligent enough to realize the overall message. By showing all the hedonism and excess in the film, Scorcese is criticizing it and showing a light on the ugliness of it. But if you’re a person who can’t think in big-picture, between-the-lines terms, you’re just going to be aware of what’s happening on screen, not what it means or what is implied.

    Reminds me of some of my family members who think video games with violence in them only do one thing, teach kids how to be violent… when in fact it creates a context and framework for kids to understand what is real and what is imagination. It’s like a puzzle that teaches you how to think creatively, but a dumb person would look at it and say “shapes and colors. what’s so cool about that…”

    • You’re so smart, Ken. ;)

      • okay

  19. Slow Clap!

    I have seen both movies…. great perspective. Slow Clap… Slow Clap….

  20. Excellent article Kofi!I loved the discussion about Wolf of Wall Street on Screenrant’s latest podcast. And now I’ll have to see if Inside Job is available on Netflix.
    I am so incredibly excited to see this movie, it’s not playing anywhere near where we live so my wife is taking me on a date today to a city an hour and a half away to see it!

  21. The very best we can expect from a film or play is that the team involved put a mirror up to society that truthfully reflects what is there to see. Scorcese is doing exactly that as he has always done in the past. He trademarkedly cuts into the bone and pulls out the marrow for us to examine every time he gets behind a camera so it’s no surprise that he would show and tell this autobiographical piece in every bit as graphic a way as he always has in the depiction of his other more physically brutal and violent criminal characters. This isn’t blue collar crime. It’s white collar crime and it’s every bit as ugly, filthy, disgusting and detestable. We just expect that the veneer of respectability is more than a few cells deep with the financial players on Wall Street and as always, he gobsmacks us as he rips away the veneer when the mask comes flying off. Scorcese, along with DiCaprio are the messengers and this film is the message. I got the point and I want all of these besotted debauched people who nearly crashed the financial system worldwide to see jail time too for what they have done and continue to do today. But in the meantime, as the old saying goes, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

  22. The reason people are outraged after seeing this film is that its easier to understand something you’ve experienced compared to something that is explained to you.

    And this movie is exactly that..an experience.

    The truth is, most of the crimes that occur in this country are the not crimes. Business and government often work together to be “job creators” and as such, business is given a REDICULOUS amount of leighway. And because the corruption is so wide spread and takes time to build to be big enough to be noticeable, government agencies are often quite slow on the uptake in handling these crimes. And even once they start to work on it, the hardest part of their efforts is defining the crime that is being broken. Companies have often gotten away with a first time crime because the language to prosecute them simply didn’t exist until someone unsuccessfully tried to prosecute them, and had to get the law changed after the fact…

  23. “Wolf of Wall ST” was the worst film I have ever seen. It should have been rated “X” and
    not “R”. Just so disgusting on all levels of movie making.

    What I hated most was that it didn’t show the victims of DiCaprio’s antics on Wall ST.
    Corsese should have somehow included in his film—-all the older people—who lost all
    their life savings. Instead he just glorified the evil on his movie.
    When I watched this film, I kept thinking to myself, “This couldn’t get any worse, but it”. Watched it right after Christmas, and wanted to take a good long shower. I felt so
    dirty watching it, and I really wondered what made me sit there and do nothing! I really was repulsed, and if anyone else has any scruples,–they would agree with me.
    This is in no way a new cult film—and if we have a following–then we are doomed by
    our own evil thinking!
    did. I wish I would have gotten up and asked for my money back, including my popcorn money and coke money. Think of the young people, who will get their values from this movie. DiCaprio must need money to act in this horrible movie. He really is so talented
    , and to think he would sink so low to act in such a dreadful movie.

    • It doesn’t sound like you understood anything about the film. When you talk about feeling disgusting and uncomfortable, you didn’t realize that’s the whole point. The film achieved its goal with you and you don’t seem to realize it. What those people did was a terrible thing and rather than show it in an obvious way by showing the victims, Scorsese chose to make you feel it inside yourself while you were watching.

      • Keep thinking that that was Scorsese’s point of the movie.. But it was not at all. Scorsese was pushed into making this movie by DiCaprio for years because ever since DiCaprio read the book by Jordan Belfort he wanted to make the movie. So he could play such an interesting “character” and hopefully snag some awards (which he just did tonight at the Golden Globes). The writer of this film (Terence Winter) has said that the movie was about making Leo’s portrayal of Jordan charm the audience into going on this journey with him and also falling for his charms so that viewers enjoy all the nasty things that happen in the movie, while maybe feeling some kind of weird feeling about rolling with the bad guys. But many movie-goers, including myself, did not fall for such trashy material. This film seems to divide people in a moral way. Obviously Martin Scorsese makes great movies but people will walk out of any movie if they aren’t absorbed by it. And such crass behavior without good intentions leads to an empty and hollow film that is all razzle-dazzle and no heart. Also love it when people say “it’s based on a true story” when the book was written by Jordan Belfort. A man who is so clearly shown to be a liar in every way if it means he wins. Goodfellas was a great movie because it was based in truth, the characters had higher standards, and the film had a heart. To people like myself and many others The Wolf of Wall Street was a well crafted movie that just does not seem to be very honest because of who wrote the book that inspired the film, the characters are slime, and the film has no heart at all.

        Also there has been an interview with the real FBI agents who Jordan helped rat out his friends to who has come forward saying that he did NOT give his partner (Jonah Hill’s character) any note to warn him about the wire. He ratted him out to the feds and he did it to dozens more associates. He was even worse than how he was portrayed in the film.

        And he was never called the Wolf of Wall Street. Several sources say that he was still a nobody back then, who just stole, cheated and lied to get ahead. He invented the nickname when he finished his book after his slap-on-the-wrist jail sentence.

        Jordan Belfort has officially lied his way into his career. And now he’s already becoming the Hyena of Hollywood.

        • The Hyena of Hollywood. Works for me.

  24. And while we discuss this, Mr. Belford only gets richer. I’m sorry what was the point of this article?

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