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Wall Street all Over Again

Posted October 14, 2008

Gordon Gekko in Wall Street

Gordon Gekko in Wall Street

Less three weeks ago, the actor Michael Douglas, while at the United Nations to urge for the ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty, was approached by a confused reporter. According the Associated Press, Douglas was asked, "Are you saying Gordon that greed is not good?” To which he naturally respond, “My name is not Gordon. He's a character I played 20 years ago." But these are confusing times, and Gekko a villain for our troubled economic times. If Wall Street excesses (as portrayed in Wall Street) got us here, of course, we want to find Gordon Gekko, the guy who started it all. Indeed Fox is currently in pre-production on Wall Street 2, tentatively named Money Never Sleeps and Michael Douglas is in talks to revive his famed “Greed is Good” Gekko role.

To explain why Wall Street is a movie for our times, A. O. Scott talks us through a video talk on the film, pointing out how in many ways the success of the movie rests on up-and-coming business types willfully misreading it. Rather than taking the film as brutal indictment of America’s burn-‘em-all-mentality, young brokers revel in the film’s fiscal brutality. As Scott points out, if you were to enter any financial institution in the last few decades, lines like “Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit” or “If you need a friend, get a dog” would be repeated “not with irony but with reverence and awe.” Sad but true. Further Scott, ever the student of literature, reaches back to John Milton to explain this diabolical character, Gordon Gekko.