Friday, May 2, 2014

Wolf of Wall Street and the Pigs of Tinseltown

Is this their post-Oscar celebration, or a scene from the movie? What difference does it make?
If you can't imagine a more beat-you-over-the-head obvious infomercial for liberalism than the painful healthcare/amnesty vehicle Elysium with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, then you haven't seen Wolf of Wall Street.  It's amazing: a true Hollywood writer/filmmaker's dream — vile, disgusting scene after scene without worrying about story or character development.  And there were a lot of actors with time on their hands after helping campaign for the incumbent in 2012.  Even Rob "Meathead" Reiner was recruited to channel what he must think of as his inner "Republican" to be as crass and thuggish as possible.  (One imagines Scorsese directing Reiner: "You're a Koch brother, Rob! A Koch brother!")  It's a sheep-in-wolf's-clothing party, everybody!  Everybody pretend to be an evil capitalist and channel your inner sociopath!

Toby Young has written a articulate and telling summary of the film for the Telegraph, taking issue with the forced stereotypes.  But I've got an even more succinct description.  It is liberal porn.  Not just pornographic in the literal sense, which it was, not just pornographic in the analogously creepy sense of ultra-gore horrorfest, though it does have a touch of the horrific and indulgently reprehensible, but also gluttonously indulgent as cheap political fantasy with all the cheap thrills of burning someone in effigy (in this case, the capitalist bogeyman), obsessively and relentlessly vulgar and debauched all in the name of liberal self-righteousness.  And we're not at all surprised at how this movie fared against the emotionally resonant cinematic triumph Saving Mr. Banks at the Oscars, are we?  Not a bit.  Not since the "timely" and uneven Crash won over its betters.  Certainly not while the staged and dubious political ads of Michael Moore win hands down, as the thoughtful and personal 2016: Obama's America is conspicuously ignored.  And certainly not since the fish-out-of-water "Alone Yet Not Alone" was hamstrung by threatened Tinseltowners. (How did you wander into our party, little mainstream America Christian song?)  Because this is what the Oscars have come to represent: a members-only club celebration of unprincipled and incoherent political sectarianism.

Scorsese and Dicaprio have something in common with Jordan Belfort, the eponymous wolf:  They made an obscene amount of money by selling a worthless product to a lot of people.

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