The kerfuffle over “The Wolf of Wallstreet”

Martin Scorsese’s latest film “The Wolf of Wall Street” is out.

  • Some people, like the daughter of one of “The Wolf’s” business partners, are saying that the movie is shameful and glorifies drugs, crime, and this particular crime.
  • Some people (some critics and thinking people) are saying that the movie is a satire, a dark comedy, or that it is “Cormac Mccarthyesque in that it forces serious evil on you until you laugh because there’s really no other way to handle this very real absurdity. [It] glorifies nothing about the Wall Street greed fest. The message is a dark one: ‘There are no friends on Wall Street’.” (Aaron Warnock)
  • The trailers (one and two) makes the movie look like quite a celebration of despicable acts.

Hopefully everyone who watches it will get the satire.

Here’s the problem, however, if they don’t:

I have recently researched how, and why, media glorifies alcohol and drugs. And how powerful of an influence media is. What I have found is shocking.

First: movies glorify cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and fame for money. They are paid to do so, or they can augment profits by doing so—by selling merchandise. This has been going on for almost 70 years in TV and movies. All that is necessary is to show a “star” using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. Or to associate those things with money, adventure, or romance. And you have very powerful advertising. A lot of tobacco, alcohol, and drug money has been, and is, flowing into Hollywood to buy this advertising. How much money? Well, over 70% of movies show drug/alcohol/fame in a positive light. Over 70%.

Second: movies are a more powerful influence than parents. You read that right. Seeing cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol portrayed positively in movies is a greater predictor of the viewer using those things than even seeing their parents use.

There are a few reasons why a teen tries tobacco, alcohol, or drugs: 1) They are pressured into it. 2) They were born into it. It is a constant presence in their home—just a part of life. 3) They feel acute inner pain and self-medicate. But the most powerful reason? They have seen it in movies. Seriously. That is what the research shows. (See also the quote at the end.)

It gets more disturbing.

Since 2000, studios have made fame the most important value in children’s shows. They did this so they could sell not only the show, but millions of dollar of merchandise with the “star” on it. Lunch boxes, school binders, magazines, posters, albums, stickers, t-shirts, etc, etc. It took less than seven years for the effect to be total. The next time (2007) that values in children’s shows were studied, fame—which had been near the bottom (15th of 16 values) of important values among children—was the most important thing to children. I have written about this before.

Since finding that out, I am, frankly, disgusted by seeing drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, or fame “advertised” in movies. And I am disheartened by how easily and quickly people buy whatever is sold.

“You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable.” – George Orwell. 1984

It will be dangerous if viewers miss the satire and nuanced message of this movie… and, because of the extent of their indoctrination, it is likely that they will.

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3 comments

  1. You are spot right on about the research… I know, I’ve had to study and research those factors in psychology and how marketing affects children. I appreciate your comments and your stand and your wisdom.

  2. Agree, so you think most people will walk away from the movie w/ a passion and drive, suggested from ,”The Wolf Of Wallstreet”,to go into some sort of get rich quick method?? Illegal methods? Do you believe that this movie inspires illegal activity ?

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