Blog

Wall S⁠t⁠ree⁠t⁠ II: The Tea Par⁠t⁠y Never Sleeps

By: The James Madison Institute / June 9, 2011

The James Madison Institute

Blog

June 9, 2011

By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
I recently watched the sequel to the classic 1987 film, Wall Street. As you may remember at the conclusion of the original film, Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, gets busted for money laundering by a younger Charlie Sheen, who was “winning” a lot more in those days.Flash forward to the sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which was released in 2010 and is now available through Netflix. At the beginning of this film, Gordon Gekko is released from prison. Once a very powerful Wall Street tycoon, he now has no one there to greet him. His daughter wants nothing to do with him. The film quickly flashes forward seven years. Now Gekko is on a successful book and lecture tour, touting his new title, Is Greed Good? Why Wall Street Has Finally Gone Too Far.What does Mr. Gekko go around speaking about? As the global economy is melting down, on the brink of disaster, Gekko writes and speaks about the coming financial disaster. While he acknowledges how his own personal greed led him to prison, Gekko says what the corporate fat cats and government officials are doing together today make his crimes look petty and out of date.This movie has so many great lines and also parallels with the real life financial crisis of 2008. It takes a very critical view of the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP), aka the Wall Street “bailout.” One scene shows the heads of major financial institutions meeting with the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. During one of these closed door meetings, there is some disagreement and one character says if they go forward with this, “You’re talking nationalization! Socialism!”Once again, the sentiments of the modern day Tea Party movement ring through our popular culture. Even further, much of the Tea Party movement is concerned about passing on debt, the outcome of our greed, to the next generation. This is displayed in a subtle manner through the relationship that Gekko strikes up with his daughter and son-in-law-to-be. Gekko still has his flaws in this film – and his personal ambition gets him into trouble again. But the reminder about the importance of family and the next generation haunts him. “If there’s something I learned in prison it’s that money is not the prime commodity in our lives…time is,” he says.I highly doubt that Oliver Stone, a self-professed political leftist, would consider himself a “Tea Party Patriot.” However, the message this movie, which he directed, sends reflects our culture’s desire to keep big business and big government from colluding together against the interests of those of us on Main Street. It also unites us in a common desire to strengthen the principle of personal responsibility.Even in Hollywood, the Tea Party never sleeps.