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Feminist film criticism: “Why wasn’t ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ told from a woman’s point of view?

January 6, 2014

Because if you’re a feminist, every picture must be a woman’s picture:

Less Leonardo di Caprio, please–he’s a man

Here is a way to do everything the filmmakers and his star claim to have wanted to do, of course: Film the movie through the eyes of one of the women who was there—say, the broker who started at the bottom as a jobless single mother, grew through the ranks to become a Chanel-wearing power bitch, and went down with the rest when [[Jason] Belfort ratted them all out to save himself. Not only would the angle be one we’ve never seen on film before, but it would have been much the same story Belfort tells, only through a more accurate and less ambiguous lens of revulsion and condemnation.

Riiight–Wolf of Wall Street should have been done as a remake of Working Girl.

After seeing Wolf yesterday (yeah, way too long, but a lot of fun), I thought there was plenty of women’s-angle stuff in it. Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) ditches his pretty (and also wise and loyal) first wife for his prettier (and also gold-digging and disloyal) second wife, then cheats like crazy with everything female that moves. And the perfidy of his ratting out that single-mom, power suit-wearing female broker (the suit is Armani–nice product placement!–not Chanel) who was one of his most grateful and loyal employees is all right there in Wolf as Martin Scorsese actually made it.

But what turns out to actually tick off Bitch film critic Andi Zeisler is that the film didn’t feature enough female stockbrokers:

And, of course, there are women—perhaps more than anything, they’re the real spoils of the untold wealth that Belfort and his colleagues stack up. Few women work at Stratton Oakmost in anything other than a service capacity, and “service” is defined as anything from getting double-teamed by Belfort and his partner Donnie Azoff (a completely haywire Jonah Hill), to volunteering for head-shaving in return for $10,000. (“She’s promised to spend it on breast implants!” crows Belfort)

There are trophy wives: Belfort finds his when she shows up at his beach house, and pursues her while his faithful first wife watches. There are cash mules, who strap piles of bills to their bodies before boarding flights to Switzerland. And there are many, many sex workers: Belfort voice-overs a breakdown of the “three kinds of hookers” regularly employed by Stratton Oakmont (and, as suggested elsewhere in the film, by the rest of Wall Street); public sex among brokers is a team sport, as much a part of their culture as the white-collars on their striped button-downs.

Yes, what Wolf needed was a “diversity” program. If only there had been fewer women working in “a service capacity” and more of them cheating customers on the trading floor, what a fine film it would have been. Never mind that in the real world, women make up only 5 percent of securities traders, even now, 20 years after the Wolf era of the early ’90s. That’s because securities trading is a high-pressure job that demands lots and lots of competitive aggression and testosterone. The scads of risk-averse women who dug The Life of Julia and the government-guaranteed lifetime security it touted aren’t about to work on dog-eat-dog trading floors.

But reality never fazes a feminist film critic. Let’s instead do a remake of Nine to Five.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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One Comment
  1. Jayjay permalink

    Oh I cannot even begin to pick apart your biases, wide sweeping judgements and a complete misunderstanding of whom and what women are. Cannot even begin.

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