Hollywood hates free-markets: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps edition

From Reason.tv:

Oliver Stone’s uber-villain Gordon Gekko is back in the new film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which (surprise!) features greedy capitalists behaving badly. It might remind you of Avatar, Mission Impossible 2 or roughly a zillion other films in which capitalists destroy the environment, concoct killer viruses, harvest organs, and cover up murder in order to feed their lust of profit. Even when capitalism isn’t the primary target, the representatives of commerce are often flat-out repulsive (think Jabba the Hutt).

Perhaps it’s ironic that Hollywood filmmakers practice what they preach against. Sure he palls around with socialist dictators Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, but there’s no doubt Oliver Stone hopes to rake in obscene profits with his new flick.

See also Alex Tabarrok’s Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Capitalism: Hollywood’s Miscast Villain – Why the film industry is so good at getting business wrong.

(via Christian Toto at Pajamas Media)

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3 Comments

Filed under arts, entertainment, sports, economics

3 responses to “Hollywood hates free-markets: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps edition

  1. ah yes, those unfortunate rich and powerful people who control everything. the poor, unfairly-maligned souls! here, let me get out my tiny violin…also, “in hollywood, nobody loves capitalism” is a hilariously absurd statement to me.and the wire is quite possibly the probably the most socioeconomically insightful television show ever. watch it if you haven’t and make up your own mind. to deem it anti-capitalist because it doesn’t put a sparkly pro-business gloss on the various corrupt institutions of baltimore pretty much misses the point entirely. it’s probably fair to say it’s anti-greed, but if you’ve got a problem with that, well, you’ve just got problems.

    • Anonymous

      “ah yes, those unfortunate rich and powerful people who control everything. the poor, unfairly-maligned souls! here, let me get out my tiny violin…” I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Out of context, I might think you’re not speaking of successful entrepreneurs (not part of crony capitalism), but the cronies themselves and members of the political class.The quote is “because in Hollywood no one loves capitalism.” Sure, a bit of hyperbole. Would it be as hilarious or absurd if “no one” were replaced by “hardly anyone”?To consider, from literary critic Paul Cantor’s essay in the book, South Park and Philosophy

      For a comprehensive survey of the portrayal of businessmen in American popular culture, see the chapter “The culture industry’srepresentation of business” in Don Lavoie and Emily Chamlee-Wright, Culture and Enterprise: The Development, Representation and Morality of Business (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 80-103. Here are some representative figures from media studies: “Of all the antagonists studied in over 30 years of programming, businessmen were twice as likely to play the role of antagonist than any other identifiable occupation. Business characters are nearly three times as likely to be criminals, relative to other occupations on television. They represent 12 percent of all characters in identifiable occupations, but account for 32 percent of crimes. Forty-four percent of all vice crimes such as prostitution and drug trafficking committed on television, and 40 percent of TV murders, are perpetrated by business people” (p. 84)

      Cantor notes one great exception, The Aviator.

      • sorry for the delayed response. my initial comment was sort of a drive-by.my first statement was pure snark and sarcasm, but my point was just that i find this idea that we should be filling our entertainment media with pro-business messages to be ridiculous. as if capitalism – the bedrock of modern society – needs its own advertising budget. i can see the billboards now: “got money?”i also find interesting the eagerness with which you compartmentalize “successful entrepeneurs” from “crony capitalists and members of the political class” as if there was no overlap between the two. the essential truth of the matter is that business and corporate interests hold a tight monopoly on political power in this country. the notion that we need more cheerleading for a class of people who already wield virtually unchecked power i find to be viscerally repulsive. as for the statement about hollywood and capitalism, i wouldn’t call it hyperbole so much as a complete inversion of the truth. hollywood IS capitalism, in all its cut-throat, backroom-deal, power-crazed splendor. this remains true regardless of the narratives which drive the engine of that enterprise.so why, then, are it’s narratives so (supposedly) anti-business? well, if i may be blindingly obvious for a second: because it sells. (see what i did there?) the reason for this seems like a no-brainer to me, and again it comes down to the same essential point: power. power makes for good adversaries, which makes for good conflict, which makes for good narrative. and who has more power than corporate america? nobody comes to mind.business people also have the benefit of being familiar and relateable. this also makes for appealing narrative, and it’s precisely because capitalism is already so ingrained into our cultural DNA. plus, nobody wants to spend their hard-earned cash on a movie that only reminds them of what they do all day to earn it. that, i think, probably accounts for much of the dearth of ostensibly “pro-business” entertainment.but now i think i’ve conceded too much of the point. because to the limited extent that hollywood can be construed as anti-business (or more accurately, as i pointed out before, anti-greed) it is unabashedly, enthusiastically, pro-money and pro-consumption. this is true for our culture more generally – the accumulation of wealth and goods is fetishized to an absurd degree, to the extent that we all pretty much stopped noticing it long ago.also, dude lists erin brokovich as an example of an unfairly anti-business narrative. really? that’s like saying return of the jedi was unfair to the dark side. i mean come on.

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