Shut Up About Glorifying Bad Guys, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Is a Martin Scorsese Masterpiece

Shut Up About Glorifying Bad Guys, 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Is a Martin Scorsese Masterpiece

The Wolf of Wall Street, A Legend Reborn

There seems to be no argument that director Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is on par with his Oscar-nominated films of the past. Hopefully the Academy of Motion Pictures won’t snub this one when the nominations are announced on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. It was wonderful to see Leonardo DiCaprio pick up the Golden Globe last night for best actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy, and gush gratitude for Scorsese.

Scorsese addressed the backlash of criticism a few days ago. He has been accused of glorifying Jordan Belfort, who’s played by Leonardo DiCaprio (Scorsese’s current-day Robert De Niro). Belfort, as most of you know by now, was convicted of swindling 1,513 people out of millions of dollars.

In the ’90s, Belfort founded a brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, which defrauded investors via boiler room pump and dump. Need a translation? A boiler room operation uses high-pressure sales tactics to sell stocks to clients through cold calling. Pump and dump refers to deceitfully inflating the price of cheaply purchased stocks. When the operators “dump” their overvalued shares, the price falls and investors lose their money.


So, yes, Belfort is a despicable guy, but anybody who thinks Scorsese glorified him is missing the whole point of the movie. Belfort is portrayed as the lying, scheming, misogynist, greedmeister that he is. The movie is brilliantly entertaining, just like Scorsese’s previous controversial movies that were nominated for Oscars.

When asked about the backlash he’s getting, Scorsese said, “Go back to 1973 ‘Mean Streets,’ and a few years later ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Casino,’ ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ I’ve had experience with this sort of thing. It’s disappointing at times, it’s frustrating, but on the other hand this film seems to be something people can talk about. There’s a dialogue and that’s exciting. Whether you think something is well made or not, this is a big issue — the values in our society and our culture. I tried to show it profanely and with all of its obscenity.”

I am a a big fan of Scorsese and DiCaprio. I fell for Leo in “Basketball Diaries,” and every movie since. I’ve respected how DiCaprio gives back through philanthropy, but I understand why he’s received some flak for a recent video in which he sounds like he is praising Belfort. “What separates Jordan’s story from others like it is the brutal honesty in which he talks about the mistakes he’s made in his life,” said DiCaprio. Uh, honesty? I don’t think so. Belfort made claims on Facebook and Twitter that although he was ordered to pay 50 percent of the books and movie proceeds to victims, he is instead choosing to give 100 percent. The problem is that once again, Belfort is just telling big, fat whoppers.


DiCaprio also said in the video, “I have been in his [Belfort’s] company many times, but there is nothing quite like Jordan’s public speaking, and his ability to train and empower young entrepreneurs. Jordan stands as a shining example of the transformative qualities of ambition and hard work, and in that regard, he is a true motivator.” Shining example? Yeah, of a sociopath.

Jonah Hill, who plays DiCaprio’s sleazy partner in crime, Donnie Azoff (a composite character based on Belfort’s real partner, Danny Porush), said, “Jordan Belfort wrote the book the movie is based on, so it’s from his perspective. It describes debaucherous and excessive behavior. They were criminals that swindled innocent people out of their money and many never paid for their crimes. I felt I had to play this part because I recognized that person in society. I feel they are a lot of what’s wrong. I had to be a part of bringing that character to life and illuminating what’s wrong with that behavior, that kind of excess, valuing money over everything else and becoming obscenely wealthy.”

So folks, before you go trashing Scorsese, just remember how much you’ve laughed at his brilliant movies. Think back to Joe Pesci as the evil Tommy DeVito in “Goodfellas” and remember how much you laughed just as much as you cringed. The same is true of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Just because the movie ranks high off the charts in entertainment value doesn’t mean you condone any of the horrendous behavior.

You know what’s sickening? Belfort even benefited from prison. Guess who his roomie was? Tommy Chong of the comedy team Cheech and Chong. Chong laughed at all of Belfort’s wild stories and encouraged him to write a book. So, while Belfort served a mere 22 months in prison — even though he was sentenced to four years — he read “Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe to learn how to write a bestseller. Yes, his two memoirs may be “honest” about what a mess he made and how much of a drug addict he was. He even wrote that the drugs made his uninflatable penis looked like a “No. 2 pencil eraser.” But Belfort also claims he’s sober. Is that the truth? Who knows. Because addicts lie they are taught in recovery to live a rigorously honest life and own up to their responsibilities. Belfort has paid nowhere near the $110.4 million he was ordered to pay his victims, and he continues to lie about it.


In Oct. 2013, federal prosecutors filed a complaint stating that of Belfort’s $1,767,209 income from his books and movie rights deal, plus $24,000 from motivational speaking, he’s only paid $243,000 over the past four years.

OK, but hello, how is that Marty Scorsese’s fault? Americans know how ineffective our government is at punishing criminals, and that a scummy schmuck like Belfort can slide across his slimy life’s surface to enjoy cushy years in Manhattan Beach, Calif. after ruining people’s lives. All we have to do is turn on the news to see politicians who behave that way. And, since when has it been shameful to sneer at rich jerks in movies?

I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for you, Marty. You and your movie deserve recognition from the Academy.

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