Anti-Capitalist In Name Only? N.Y. Times Frustrated Oliver Stone Didn't 'Eviscerate' Wall Street in New Movie

Oliver Stone may strike most people as pretty radical, but not to people at The New York Times. Business columnist Joseph Nocera panned Stone's new movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in a piece headlined "When Did Gekko Get So Toothless?" Stone failed to "eviscerate the folks responsible" for the credit crisis -- and Nocera might mean actually removing their viscera, like in a slasher flick:   

There is something a little incongruous about hearing Oliver Stone, the left-leaning, blunt-talking film director, dropping arcane Wall Street terms like "credit default swaps" and "collateralized debt obligations." But that’s just what he was doing a few weeks ago when trying to explain why his new movie, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” was not the fictionalized version of the financial crisis of 2008 I had expected. 

“I don’t know how you show a credit default swap on the screen,” Mr. Stone said. Never mind that the financial crisis was what had prompted his involvement in the first place. Or that the feelings of outrage and fear that the crisis fueled are feelings that Mr. Stone seems to share. Or that his many fans were surely expecting — like me — a movie that took on the financial crisis and eviscerated the folks responsible.

It just couldn’t be done, Mr. Stone said, not in a mainstream movie. “The idea that the entire system was dependent on a credit bubble that could pop overnight — that is really hard to convey on-screen.”

....Truth to tell, I wasn’t really buying what Mr. Stone was selling. The more he protested, the more he sounded like a man who hadn’t pulled off what he had set out to accomplish and was now making after-the-fact excuses. Not unlike Wall Street itself in the aftermath of the financial crisis, when you come to think of it.

....There is something a little unfair, I realize, in criticizing a director for not making the film you had hoped he would make. But fans of the original “Wall Street” will come to this new movie expecting Mr. Stone to tap into the nation’s anger by dramatizing Wall Street’s sins. They are going to be disappointed. Mr. Stone looked the crisis straight in the eye — and blinked.

Nocera wrapped it up by talking to investor Olaf Rogge, who shares Nocera's frustration that there wasn't enough "evisceration" of Wall Street. 

“He missed a beautiful opportunity,” Mr. Rogge said finally. “He could have pointed out how we were five minutes from the brink of anarchy.”

I suspect that someone will one day make a film that captures that drama. It just won’t be Oliver Stone.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis