“The richest 1 percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth — five trillion dollars,” Michael Douglas‘s Gordon Gekko declared 22 years ago in Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street. “One-third of that comes from hard work, and two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do — stock and real-estate speculation. [And] it’s bullshit.
“You got 90 percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. You’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it.”
As Hollywood & Fine‘s Marshall Fine observed in a 10.14 article, “This is the same message that Michael Moore is offering in Capitalism: A Love Story, except Moore is bemoaning, not celebrating, these ideas.
Gekko’s “bullshit” speech “was overlooked at the time because people were so enamored of the more sound-bite-friendly line, ‘Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,'” Fine writes. “As Douglas was prepping for Wall Street 2, he told interviewers that financial types regularly come up to him and tell him that his famous line inspired them to become corporate assholes like Gekko – thus missing the point of the film.
“But it’s that other speech that nails it. Gekko delivers it to calm Bud (Charlie Sheen), who’s angry at Gekko for dismantling an airline whose sale Bud engineered in order to save it. It’s all there — all the points that Moore makes. That our economy has become consumed with itself, with financial services and their assorted sordid byproducts. Stone was telling the future – and, as I recall, he was castigated at the time for being simplistic and alarmist.”
It’s an excellent piece — please read the whole thing.