A reader rolls his eyes at the film’s critics:
The Wolf of Wall Street mocks its Masters of the Universe mercilessly. They’re dumb, they’re vulgar; even Jonah Hill’s teeth are tacky as hell. The film is a comedy and its characters are the butt of the joke. If someone looks at this film and thinks those guys with their vintage Quaaludes are cool, that’s on the viewer, not Scorcese. In the end, when the FBI agent is riding on the train, Scorcese isn’t mocking him; the director is telling us, the rest of society, that we’ve got it wrong.
That’s the biggest joke of all, really. People are so wired to respond to money and luxury that they can’t comprehend a picture of wealth and success might not be flattering. We’re in it so deep the humor is lost on us.
Another singles out Yglesias:
I’m not sure where he got the idea that it’s a Hollywood director’s job to make movies that educate the public about Wall Street dealings, but I thought it was pretty obvious that Scorsese’s film makes little or no distinction between legal and illegal thievery. The early scenes with Matthew McConaughey establish that everything his firm was doing was legal, but it was the same practice DiCaprio uses later: same mentality, same coke-fueling, same tricking of clients. It’s all thievery!
Another compares The Wolf of Wall Street to other Scorsese films:
The movie is vastly entertaining, a tremendous comedy. But I can’t imagine anyone leaving it and not saying “These are some fucking horrible people.”
On some levels they’re worse than the gangsters in Goodfellas, even though there are no bullets in the head in this one. But like Goodfellas, Wolf glamorizes a certain lifestyle not because it is a preferable way of life, but because it is a tempting one. Scorsese – ever a Catholic filmmaker – has made a career exploring the various forms of temptation. That could be flouting the law in Wolf or Goodfellas, turning to vigilante justice in Taxi Driver, or – like Jesus faced in Last Temptation of Christ – simply being a normal person.
Another is close to the subject:
First of all, let me admit to being a (completely drug-free, commuter-train riding) Wall Street employee. I must say that I’m incredibly annoyed by this whole debate about the movie and the question of what’s wrong on Wall Street. The fact that this “wolf” sold penny stocks is really not relevant to the story. He could have been selling oil royalties or timeshares or Nigerian lottery winnings. He’s a talented salesperson without any morals preying on people’s desire to get rich quickly. And it takes three loooong hours to depict this.
The real Wall Street debate is a very complex one: if our financial system takes no risk, there will be no growth capital for the economy, and if there’s too much risk, there is systemic risk to the taxpayer. How do we find the balance? How do we foster “normal risk” while containing “catastrophic risk”? Those are difficult questions. Given that the “Wolf” stopped himself when explaining what an IPO is, we can’t expect a lot of help from Mr. Scorsese, I’m afraid.
Jordan Belfort of the film is a masterful salesman; I imagine the real Jordan Belfort is no different. His book, and subsequently the film, are simply the next steps in doing what he does best. He pulled the wool over the eyes of investors, his employees, and the attentive audiences at the seminars he held. I cannot help but think that the film audience is simply the next in line.
And then what? A reality show? Another reader suggests he’s getting some help from a familiar face:
Take a look at the appalling YouTube video of DiCaprio [seen above] in which he personally endorses Belfort. Was this the price paid for access to the guy? The words spoken by DiCaprio sound like copy for an informercial. Very creepy.