By Brad Laidman | August 29, 2001

“You may find out one day that when you’ve had money and lost it. It’s much worse than never having had it at all.”
Oliver Stone, hereafter known as Mr. Subtlety, writes great anti-heroes or at least I suppose that’s looking on the bright side. Rappers around the world swear by his script for the Brian DePalma – Al Pacino Cuban drug lord blood-fest Scarface. Wall Street is Stone’s snarling condemnation of the Go-Go junk bond king buy ’em, break ’em, and sell off the parts ’80s. Similarly, everyone ignored the so-so message and fell in love with Michæl Douglas’ aptly named corporate raider Gordon Gekko. Get it, he’s a snake baby! Witness the scene in the recent Boiler Room where a room full of young coked up crooked brokers view the performance over and over mouthing Douglas’ every word to see the end result of Stone’s blazing tirade. Living a dull honest life like Martin Sheen does doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as fun as playing God, getting rich, wearing the finest Italian suits, and doing the hottest American women.
Back in the day’s when he had a healthy career before the coke, the hookers and the porn stars, Charlie Sheen was Stone’s eager young alter ego. Don’t forget for a second that Stone considers Wall Street to be every bit the unwinnable jungle war Viet Nam was in their previous award winning team up Platoon. Sheen plays ambitious neophyte stock broker Bud Fox. In case you thought Stone could write more than one plot notice that Charlie is again forced to choose between father figures Martin Sheen and Michæl Douglas just like he had to sift through Willem Defoe and the scarred Tom Berenger in Platoon. I wish my life were so blessed to be as black and white as an Oliver Stone flick. The only difference is Douglas is much better dressed, and kissing his a*s seems to work out splendidly. Charlie courts Douglas like a hot blonde and in return for a little bit of whispered inside information, Charlie finds himself with a bunch of dough, a cool apartment, he gets to drive Dune buggies in the desert and do Darryl Hannah in the city. Darryl Hannah usually hangs out with the Kennedys. Do you know what a hot chick like her is worth especially in today’s modern age of Internet Billionaires? Just so you know he’s evil, Oliver shades Gekko in darkness while thunderbolts clap in the background.
So how does Charlie say thanks. Just because Douglas wants to put a few off Daddy’s pals out of work, just because Hal Holbrook looks at him like he is scum, just because Dad is embarrassed to have sired him, he tosses it all away and sells big man Gekko down the river first to moral(?) Corporate Raider Terrence Stamp and then to the SEC with a wire in the park. For his trouble he loses his securities license forever, loses Darryl, loses the apartment, and probably even does a little jail time. My Grandfather died a rich man. He never saw Wall Street, but if he had he would have thought Charlie Sheen was the biggest sap he’d ever seen in his life. If life were supposed to be fair a third of the African American males in this country probably wouldn’t be in jail watching Scarface over and over again. In the end, even Michæl Milken got out of jail with enough dough to rebuild his reputation. What did poor Bud get? Most likely a job as a Blue Star Airlines baggage checker. Don’t forget crowds cheered when Ice Cube popped a couple caps into his brother’s killer in Boyz ‘N’ the Hood. The world loves a winner, especially one with style and dough. Who cares if he doesn’t build or produce anything but paper trails and SEC investigations. In the end little, Oliver gets to fill his movie with hot chicks, fast money, Sun-Tzu quotes, and cool self serving draconian dialogue, Michæl Douglas get an Oscar, and poor Charlie’s left playing pornographers and coke fiends. It hardly seems fair. Even Frank Capra probably would have looked the other way offered the same deal. Of course, in the movie version he would have made Gekko much more evil, and made a similar fortune forcing morality down the throats of the dollar a day fools, who sentimentally try to live a little decent life. At least in Pretty Woman Richard Gere wound up with Julia Roberts after turning honest. Charlie didn’t even get to keep Heidi Fleiss.

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