Ever since the dawn of gangster film time, the word "glorify" has been used to attack immoral (or amoral) films like a magic bullet from Edward G. Robinson's Tommy gun.
Quentin Tarantino's films "glorify" violence. Goodfellas "glorifies" the life of a gangster. The Inconvenient Truth "glorfies" environmental preservation.
Maybe nobody actually said that last one.
The controversial keyword has come up again in the last few weeks with the release of The Wolf Of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese's epic look into opulent '90s Wall Street greed. Detractors call it a celebration of a sexist, disgusting lifestyle that resulted in the destruction of many normal peoples' lives and the relatively tame consequences of Stratton Oakmont's main architect, Jordan Belfort.
Christina McDowell, whose father was "in cahoots" with Belfort and eventually sent to prison when Belfort testified against him, wrote a letter to L.A. Weekly chastising the film, calling it "a reckless attempt at continuing to pretend that these sorts of schemes are entertaining."
Of course, she hasn't seen the movie.
And the people who have, and who are still railing against it, must have missed the scene where Belfort shaved off a female employee's hair in front of a cheering crowd in exchange for paying for her breast implants. Or the scene where he crashed his helicopter into his yard while hopped up on Quaaludes. Or the scene where he scoured his house like a junkie for his cocaine stash, punched his wife in the gut, and attempted to kidnap his baby before crashing his car with her in the front seat.
Yeah, I'm so jealous of Jordan Belfort.
If you're one of these people who cheered on Belfort through the movie and tell him he's awesome on his Facebook page (and I'm not naive enough to think these people don't exist), then congratulations: you didn't get it. You're probably the same people who think Gordon Gekko was the hero of Wall Street and Mr. Burns the most rational character on The Simpsons.
Belfort pretty much gets away with his disgusting acts. Scorsese clearly thinks it's ridiculous. But is he supposed to stand on screen and say, "JORDAN BELFORT IS A BAAAAD MAN"?
I mean, is It's A Wonderful Life supportive of capitalism because Mr. Potter got off scot-free? Does Dr. Strangelove commend the use of nuclear weaponry? Did George Orwell, in fact, love Big Brother?
Moreover, is it the job of art solely to provide morality tales where the bad guys get comeuppance?
Or should Scorsese -- or Frank Capra, or Stanley Kubrick, or George Orwell -- expect you to be smart enough to figure out the difference between right and wrong yourself?
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