Monday, 27 January 2014

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS

16. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013, dir. Martin Scorcese)

27/01/2014


I work in a call centre but, thankfully, I do not work in sales. I book physiotherapy appointments for people who have been referred to us by their GP, so they know we are calling them. It is nice to hear the lift in people's voices when they know why we have called. I previously worked in customer services for another company, which did involve, on a small scale, the pushing of other services - providing "added value," which is the least guilty way of thinking about it. I never took it seriously, because I knew that was not why people were calling - sales were the preserve of another department. 

Before that, I dealt with the "customer relations" for the same company, which amounted to dealing with complaints from people who, most often, were told one thing, only to find it was wrong, because they were only told what they wanted to hear. My job was to placate, or even offer a small amount of compensation in order to keep the business of people.

It doesn't matter what company this was, as it happens everywhere. Given the opportunity to make more money, scruples, and perhaps morals, can collapse, and as soon as you start feeling contemptuous of your fellow human beings, seeing them as only a means to an end, then you should think about finding a different line of work.

With that, I saw "The Wolf of Wall Street," set in the "boiler room" of a share trading floor, and feeling like a pumped up version of a regular call centre - pumped up by cocaine, Quaaludes, and masturbation (if you see Matthew McConaughey's scenes, you will know...). Opportunity and greed reigns, and a group of characters that, both figuratively and actually, fuck everyone with which they have contact. (I should say that, like a Billy Connolly routine, you get used to the frequency of the swearing, as if it is a way of bridging a gap between words, like "um...," "er..." or "hmmm...").

The film has been accused of lacking a moral centre, but that should be, in any case, brought by audience - not the group that seeks to censor for the good of society, but the personal moral structure of the individual. I felt like I was watching a fantasy, a world that I would never be a part of, and never want to enter - I am a different species to the animalistic nature of what I saw. Yes, it was exhilarating, and hilarious, but I felt I was watching at a safe enough distance - the misogyny of the main characters enraged me, but that was its purpose, and I felt relief when Jordan Belfort, the protagonist of all I surveyed, was finally cut down by the FBI agent that could finally wield power over him.

Leonardo DiCaprio was exactly the right person to play the lead in this film, portraying the right combination of charisma, seduction and youth that brings in the audience, and brings the characters, and eventual victims of his sales tactics, towards him. You want to believe that you can have the same level of success, even if you think you can do it a different way, one that lets you sleep at night.

In short, I liked it, but I needed a wash afterwards.

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