Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jordan Belfort wasn't hedonistic enough

Honest movie posters from

When me and Richee left the screening of The Wolf of Wall Street, Richee exclaimed "I want to be a multi-millionaire!" I left feeling slightly less enamoured with the drug fueled escapades of Jordan Belfort, who's story of nobody to money crazed arsehole to his current incarnation of sales-bastard-lite. I said to Richee "Really? You want to be like him?", and of course you realise you don't want to be exactly like him. Sure, having enough money to buy rare Quaalude's and Coco Chanel's yacht for your trophy wife may seem awesome, but to loose it all through your own stupidity is just, well, stupid.

I can understand the need for money. Money is useful. It allows you to pay your bills, buy meals that don't come in a tin. It allows you to express yourself, to buy the clothes, the furnishings, the transport that allows you to determine how you want the outside world to know you by. It can also buy you knowledge, through education, or, if you're rich enough, other people's knowledge.

Unfortunately, in Martin Scorsese's depiction of Belfort's real life, Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) doesn't use his money for knowledge. Not that he is a stupid man, far from it. This is a man you made seventy-thousand dollars in one month selling worthless penny stocks to postmen while cold-calling them, using nothing but wit, psychology and clever phrasing. In starting his own stockbroking company with the faux-stately name of Stratton Oakmont, he was making $46 million a year by his twenty-sixth birthday (Damn! Just shy of a million a week!). 

For a man whose job is stocks, it's shocking how nihilistic his vision of the future is. Yes, he plan's ways to make more money by illegaly inflating stock, but the result of doing that (more money) has no use but to alter his current situation, to alter the very moment he is in, by taking horrendous amount of drugs, having sex with as many different women as he can, and destroying as much stuff as he can. As involved in the process of Stratton Oakmont he is, he seems constantly trying to escape it all.

Hedonism, the search for pleasure to get rid of pain, is not all orgasms, drug bubbles and Gucci suits. Epicureanist philosophy states that pleasure can only achieved through knowledge of the world, while the previous Greek school of hedonism, Cyrenaics, believed that pleasure should be all encompassing, as long as you don't break any laws, as, of course, breaking rules can result in pain that reduce pleasure.

The lesson here? Jordan Belfort was not hedonistic enough! The outcome of all of this is two broken marriges, 22 months in jail, losing his company and friends, and paying back £110 million in restitution, that he is still paying back to this day. All I'm saying is, if he maybe behaved within the law a little bit more, and used a bit more knowledge in order to protect his money, maybe he'll still be enjoying his hedonism now.

Listen to more of our views on The Wolf of Wall Street in our podcast review, which you can listen to below, or you subscribe to on iTunes (if you leave us five stars and a nice comment we'll give you a free blu-ray, so just let us know you've done it through Twitter, Facebook or this here blog and we'll get back to you). 

What do you think of the hedonism portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street? Let us know in the comments.


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