When the Scorsese film, The Wolf of Wall Street, premiered in 2013, audiences were pulled in by the castings of Leonardo Dicaprio and Margot Robbie. Though it has been years since its release, the film is still referenced on social media and in daily life. It’s a running joke that a man will make you watch The Wolf of Wall Street when you first begin to see each other. But what is so encapsulating about this film, and why is Jordan Belfort a bad inspiration for young men?
Jordan Belfort was a house broker in Long Island, New York, during the 1980s and 1990s. Scorcese’s film, based on Belfort’s memoir, was released in 2013 and has taken the film industry by storm ever since. Facebook is filled with poorly edited quotations from the movie or randomly generated quotes about money and chasing goals plastered over a photo of Dicaprio. These things are typically attached to the idea of achieving the ideal ‘masculine’.
The popularity it holds amongst men is almost, if not level, with the high regard they hold for the likes of Fight Club, American Psycho, and Breaking Bad. But what do all of these productions have in common?
A mentally unhinged male protagonist.
Sex, Lies, and a Police Wire
Belfort is notorious for his fraud schemes which he successfully ran within his company, Stratton Oakmont, from 1989 to 1996. The illegal activity during this period is vast and seemingly endless.
Belfort was famed for his ‘pump and dump schemes’. This is a type of microcap stock fraud (in simple terms, fraud involving penny stocks, security that trades at less than $5 per share). They inflated the value of their owned stock by misleading people who would eventually purchase them only to discover the shares were overvalued and seemingly worthless. After being investigated by police, Belfort surrendered to wearing a wire and incriminating his associates to lessen his prison sentence.
The problem with films like The Wolf of Wall Street is glorifying capitalism, crime, drugs, and misogyny. The film is popular amongst men because it elicits a medium in which they can enthrall themselves and imagine they are living. Money, power, and women are the three things that patriarchal law tells men they should want. Portraying Belfort as some fallen hero is anything but the truth. His ex-wife, Nadine Caridi, played by Margot Robbie, filed domestic abuse claims against him. He repeatedly cheated on her and endangered their daughter’s life when he crashed his Mercedes while under the influence of drugs. His daughter’s seatbelt was unbuckled.
Toxic Masculinity and the Internet
There’s a new scandal surrounding misogyny every month on social media. In the past few months, Andrew Tate, a podcaster notorious for his dehumanizing views of women, has dominated recent discussions about what is correct and incorrect about having a platform.
Freedom of speech obviously plays a large part. Still, much like Jordan Belfort, this man represents a version of masculinity that is toxic to young men and will ultimately inspire misogyny against women in their actual lives.
Men being inspired by glorified greed, exploitation, and taking things illegally and by force can only have negative consequences.
Belfort’s booking fee to speak at events is between $100,000 and $200,000. This man doesn’t care about ‘inspiring’ successful men. He’s a criminal whose main focus has always been his wealth, and if he is framed as an inspiration for ideal masculinity, then god helps the rest of mankind.