Greedy Gordon Gekko

When we got this blog assignment, the movie that came to mind right away was Wall Street with a young Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas. Their characters, Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox, exemplify everything about corporate greed that Americans have come to hate. In the movie, Gekko is a Wall Street legend that is famous for making billions of dollars. What the movie shows us, however, is that a majority of his money making was done illegally and unethically. Meanwhile, Bud, who started off as a driven lowly trader, morphed into a miniature Gordon and found himself in lots of trouble with the SEC as well. Even though the film is from the late 1980s, many of its themes apply to the Wall Street that existed before the Great Recession.

This movie demonstrates how greed can get you into trouble and how money making can change a person. This reminds me of our class discussions about the recession and how people’s unethical behavior and significant risk taking can contribute to “bubbles.” Regardless of how much money people like Gordon Gekko make, it is clear that this type of wealth goes to their head. He represents the worst of the worst and some of the reason why the recession occurred. It reminds me of our class discussions because we have frequently discussed the reasons why the bubble burst and recession ensued. I believe that risk takers, like the ones portrayed in this film, do play a huge part in what caused the crash. The fact that someone who behaved so unethically was a Wall Street legend is scary. This film is a perfect representation that ethics play a small role in determining success in the financial sector and how, despite how unethical it is, greed is what makes you successful. As Gordon Gekko once said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” This money-first approach represents everything that is wrong with our financial sector. This film teaches us that greed, in fact, isn’t good and that you eventually pay the price for behaving unethically.


6 responses to “Greedy Gordon Gekko

  1. I always come across that Gordon Gekko quote about how greed is good and don’t really know how to feel about it. There is nothing wrong with a strong drive for profit if the methods implemented are within the law. In this case, everyone could use a little greed. Although, the word greed means an inordinate desire for these things, that is when it leads to excessive and immoral actions. It is the institutionalization of greed that pushes people to take their drive and turn it into an unreasonable desire for profit at the expense of their morals. I have touched on how I think Enron institutionalized greed a couple times before, so I will be brief. One of the main factors employees were ranked on was the amount of profit they individually made Enron, if they were in the bottom 20% they most likely were fired. Add that fact into Enron’s already falsified books and pretty soon every employee is lying. So I still kind of agree with Gordon, but that unending persuit of profit usually casuses more harm that good.

  2. This is also one of the popular culture movies that I considered writing about. The movie clearly portrays how corrupt the financial system that we have in place is. Knowing how greedy the top management of these corporations are and how motivated their decisions are by money definitely put some fear in the American public. It still amazes me that greedy individuals like Gekko were given power in the first place. This is not the type of person that I would want making decisions that effect the entire financial system.

  3. Mara this is a very accurate connection between greed and the film Wall Street. The focus on Gordon Gekko reminds me of a Michael Douglas interview where he discussed about the issues you raised in this post. When asked how he felt about the tremendous fan base Wall Street is known for he expressed a deep concern for the message the film sends. He told the interviewer that to this day he cannot go to a nice steak house in Manhattan without having at least one person in the finance industry come up and thank him for his inspiration, that Michael was the biggest reason they “do what they do.”

  4. Nice post, Mara. I agree with you that Wall Street is a great representation of the kind of culture that lead to the financial crisis of 2008. If you’re interested in learning more about this connection, I read an article last week about Ivan Boesky, the man who many believe inspired Gordon Gekko’s character. He’s even attributed with delivering his own version of the “Greed Is Good” speech.

  5. Definitely going to agree with you here. The movie Wall Street is a perfect example of corporate corruption. Many people start off in finance very innocently, and then after they are exposed to the money and power, they will do things that may not be “legal” to continue to increase their money and power. I think this is very dangerous and I believe that as the ranks in financial companies get higher, there should be a more strict monitoring process of the people with the most power.

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