by Brody Rossiter
Greed is good, money equals power, breakfast is for wimps – all phrases synonymous with the culture of New York City’s Wall Street and its pinstripe sporting, power dressing professionals. A ruthless, self-obsessed culture built upon the hallowed foundations of conspicuous consumption, hyper-masculinity, and a shitload of Corona and cocaine.
Long before Scorsese and Leo’s Quaalude popping wolf began flashing his drool soaked canines, director Oliver Stone awoke a beast far more ferocious in nature, a man by the name of Gordon Gekko. An icon of insatiable greed and unparalleled ruthlessness, Michael Douglas’ apex predator became, and unfortunately still remains, a talismanic monarch in the kingdom of yuppies.
His slicked back hair, devilish grin, and litany of highly memorable one-liners became a tangible affirmation of how 1980’s greed and insidious Reaganism refashioned the American dream into a perverse arms race in which, cars, clothes, and country estates acted as ammunition.
For the uninitiated, Wall Street, tells a similar tale to that of its spiritual filmic offspring, Wolf of Wall Street. Portrayed by a unrecognisable, fresh-faced Charlie Sheen, Bud Fox is an ambitious small-time broker who desperately wants to ascend to the heady, cut-throat big leagues. Taken under the gilded wings of corporate raider Gekko, Fox steps behind the curtain and finds himself lost in a world of unscrupulous trading complimented by equally unscrupulous lifestyles.
As with American Psycho, Wall Street manages to both encapsulate and wryly glamorise 1980’s America, whilst also offering a damning indictment of the period. Whereas the disturbed Patrick Bateman provided an internally duelling antagonist and protagonist within Harron’s American Psycho – his tortured psyche both a product of, and source of fuel for his immediate vacuous environment – Wall Street remains grounded, pitting egotistical, power-hungry white-collar America against its idealist blue-collar roots.
Oliver Stone’s family ties on Wall Street gifted the director with a wealth of influence when writing and directing the picture. Today, we all carry those ties to throughout our daily lives irrespective of whether we are rich or poor – the actions of the few irreversibly changing the lives of the masses. The Phil Collins CDs, lobster thermidor lunches and ostentatious interiors may have been resigned to the decade of excess, but that unrelenting materialistic hunger still remains. Wall Street is a both a timeless lesson and incredibly potent warning that some wolves never die.