I was watching clips from “The Wolf of Wall Street” the other day, a practice that has happened a few times over the years. I do enjoy revisiting the story of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, from time-to-time. It’s interesting, because I certainly don’t admire Belfort, but I oddly remember a group of people who did.
Some of the people I knew in high school wanted to be the next Jordan Belfort. They wanted lots of money, parties and … jail? I can’t for the life of me understand how one might watch the second half of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and think “Yeah, that’s the life I want. I want no honor or integrity and I want to rob people! Yippee for unbridled capitalistic selfishness!”
Even in high school, I was able to hear the fetishizing of Jordan Belfort’s life and wonder why this is attractive. It’s the kind of faux-ambition that a lot of people dream of. Making money in the business of money was considered the absolute peak of existence. I couldn’t see it.
I’m not going to lecture anyone on the importance of having money to your name, but what you do with that money can rub me the wrong way. If your goal is to do something innovative or support your family beyond comfortably, it’s hard for me to fault that. But if your dream is to spend your wealth on drugs and parties, and that’s what you aspire to, I likely have no respect for you.
It’s just laziness. The character of Belfort is a snake oil salesman who talks fast. He’s undeniably charming. The tragedy of the film is that, with his skill and gift for persuasion, he did nothing of real value. Sure, he lived free for a while, but in the end he’s a sober rat with a destroyed reputation.
This leads me back to wondering how anyone can walk away from the film thinking Belfort’s exploits were worth it. If I only watched the trailer of the movie, I might say that his life looks awesome. Having actually watched the film, you really have to stretch to find Belfort’s existence admirable.
To my friends from high school: I sincerely hope you put your delusion aside. Your chances of being the next Jordan Belfort were slim to begin with, and for your own sake, I hope you fail to achieve what he has, which has ultimately amounted to very little, if you still desire Belfort’s life. I was no fan of high school, but I wouldn’t wish Jordan Belfort’s vapid, material excess on my worst enemy.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.