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19 January 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street (Film Criticism): "Get Rich, Get Women, Get Famous, Get It!"

The Godfather of Deconstructing
Capitalist Patriarchy. 

Image taken from the film's
official Facebook Page.
Rationale for the use of non-free
media. Click this
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is based on a true story

In the past, Martin Scorsese dealt with gangsters and mobsters from New York to as far as Las Vegas.  Unlike Francis Ford Coppola, Scorsese never romanticized the mafia or organized crime syndicates; instead, he documented them in narrative forms.  Mafia bosses, swindlers and other criminals were just like any other characters used to critique human nature, specifically the modern capitalist man, with emphasis on man.  In any Scorsese film, whether set in the mean streets of 1970s New York or in the opulent East Coast during the nineteenth century, Scorsese have always candidly showed us the face of patriarchy, and its unapologetic appetite for amassing property and treating anything and anybody as consumer goods.  Scorsese is the “Godfather of Deconstructing Capitalist Patriarchy,” and he does not do it like an elitist academician dressed in a suit lecturing in front of eager university students. He critiques patriarchy like an insider, from an insider’s point of view, often times, multiple points of view. 

Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and
Jonah Hill
In most Scorsese films, his characters talk to the audience. Scorsese freezes the screen and we hear the voices of his main characters; they candidly tell us the real deal.  We just do not get a front seat; we are actually in the same room with his characters. Scorsese’s characters are equally reprehensible, sympathetic, pitiful and lovable.  We hate them but we also root for them, especially once the law starts to catch up on them. 

This shifting from hate to love is perhaps Scorsese’s way of telling us how capitalist patriarchy works. It charms and convinces you that having more than what you need, and throwing them away is perfectly all right. It is not about morality and human growth, capitalist patriarchy is about accumulation for accumulation’s sake, and nothing gives you more power to amass people and things than money. Morality belongs to boy scouts, the “little people,” and the “cute lambs.” The “Big Boys” or the “wolves” are above morality. With money, you can control, even if you are caught and pay for your legal transgressions, you can still reinvent yourself and capitalist patriarchy will still welcome you with open arms as long as you are still willing to keep the cogs of the wheels turning.  

In the twenty-first century, mafias are pass√©. The real gangsters of today are stockbrokers, bankers, big businessmen, high-ranking politicians, and, in some degrees, celebrities.  They control our lives. They dictate how we should live and what we should possess. 

In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort is the quintessential charismatic young capitalist; unlike the old-fashioned gangster who does his own killing and stealing, the Belforts of today are charming, sexy and attractive. They do not get their hands dirty.  We all want to be like him; we see his face plastered in Forbes, Vogue, Time, and other icons of publications. We salivate and envy their possessions and glamorous lives.

We see these young attractive rich people, but we do not really care much about how they amass their wealth.  In a way, Scorsese is telling us that in the world of capitalism, if you want to be rich and powerful, you can do it if you have the “balls to do it.” And having balls is a man’s game.

That is how the ways things are boys. Get money, get women, get cars, get yachts, get high, get arrested, get famous, get it! And f*** the rest!

If you are extra lucky, you might even write a book and get a movie deal.  Who knows, you might even get Scorsese's interest. Not bad at all. 

Leonardo DiCaprio is in top form and he deserves his Oscar nomination but Jonah Hill gave the best performance in the film. Outstanding.

Image created using Bitstrips


  1. Scorsese is at his most vocal and most irreverent in this film. His critique of the evils of the stock market is taken to tops using the zaniest (and cinematically striking) caricature treatment of capitalist greed and debauchery possible.


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