Nick Watkins April 11, 2014 ENGL 1023 Ms. Peters
The Wolf of Wall Street and Its True NatureEdit
Jordan Belfort was once a very powerful man. He was a man with the money and power to do what he wanted without consequences. If Jordan Belfort wanted to sink a yacht, he would do it. Seriously, he sank his own yacht because he wanted to go into a Mediterranean storm. The award-winning movie The Wolf of Wall Street was based off Belfort’s memoir, titled the same, which detailed life as the founder of Stratton Oakmont from his beginning to his catastrophic fall to prison. However, in both cases Belfort is an unreliable narrator. This begs the question; how accurate is everything Belfort wrote, and what really happened? Did Belfort exaggerate his life story, or maybe understate what really happened? Well, to answer those questions, it would by all accounts appear what Belfort wrote about Stratton Oakmont is as accurate as anyone can otherwise tell. His personal story, has been spun to make him look like a well-intentioned scumbag, rather than just a regular scumbag. Never in the story does he show regret nor does he mention the money he must pay back.
Real Life Discrepancies With the MovieEdit
Before anything goes too deep, the movie needs to be discussed. It should be clear that Belfort’s life is not in fact a black comedy, like the movie is described. The movie would not have had the acclaim it received had it been a documentary. Sure, the life of Belfort may have been fun in the moment, but many of his actions were felonies and just plain morally wrong. In the movie, we the viewer see employees participating in dwarf tossing, which according Belfort did not happen in his tenure there, but it may have happened after it was bought by his friend and partner, Danny Porush. Like the dwarf tossing, there were rumors of exotic pets in the office, which was shown in the movie. Once again, Belfort denies this happened, as did many other former employees. Despite being criminal and generally unethical, there was enough professionalism to keep work a pet-free place. However, all this is of minor importance, the business practices are the real story.
Jordan Belfort built Stratton Oakmont on pump-and-dump schemes, defined by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) as “the touting of a company’s stock (typically small, so-called “microcap” companies) through false and misleading statements to the marketplace.” By doing this, stockbrokers can manipulate prices to profit off their investments while the investors lose money. This is known as stock fraud, and Belfort acknowledges he knew it was illegal the whole time. Belfort speaks about his known fraud as if they are no big deal, perhaps he feels that way, but in the real world his fraud ripped through the financial world and led to dozens of lawsuits and leaving its customers with tens of millions of dollars lost. The reader sees Belfort’s writing and focuses on what happened to him, not the aftereffects of his greed, and Belfort does that with good reason. Despite being a major white collar criminal, Belfort wants the reader to see him as a fun loving executive who partied too hard and got in trouble for it. Belfort is a man who spent twenty-two months in prison for major stock fraud regardless of the spin he puts on it. He is a felon, andin a roundabout way wants people to forget that.
Business Ethics and IntegrityEdit
Now it is about time Mr. Belfort’s integrity is discussed. Integrity often called . Jordan acknowledges he knew what he was doing was both illegal and wrong, but he continued anyways. In his work on both the movie and book, Belfort portrays himself as only making tons of money for his employees, but neglects to mentions the losses taken by Stratton Oakmont’s target clientele. Never does Belfort cite the number of companies he screwed over or the bridges he burned as a result of his ethics. In a 1991 interview, Belfort justified Stratton Oakmont’s practices by saying, “We contact high-net-worth investors. I couldn’t live with myself if I was calling people who make $50,000 a year, and I’m taking their child’s tuition money.” Regardless of who the company targeted, it was a crime, and for that there is no justification. Belfort repeats this justification in the novel-turned-film, and gets the same response that it is okay in that at least it was to people in the one percent, even going as far to say that the one percent are degenerate gamblers who will roll the dice despite the deck being loaded against them. Belfort writes as though integrity is not needed, and to an extent he may be right. Integrity has disappeared from the business world, which provides reason for why he never mentions anything of the sort outside of admitting what he did was illegal. To further the point, Jordan Belfort was known to physically abuse his wife, and was reported to have kicked his wife Nadine down a flight of stairs in front of their daughter. Seeing as integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and fair, one could say Belfort and a majority of Wall Street do not have integrity.
Hopefully by now the differences between Belfort’s story of Wall Street and how things should work is clear. Yes, Wall Street has corruption, drugs, prostitutes, and white-collar crime, but Jordan Belfort’s story is his own, and no one else’s, except for his close friends. His novels stand as an atonement in the eyes of many, but his actions put harmless people in prison (see Steve Madden) and created trauma for numerous people. The wolf himself is and was a very different person than he portrayed himself in his memoirs, but by damn did he entertain while telling the truth about Stratton Oakmont.
Audi, Robert, and Patrick E. Murphy. "The Many Faces of Integrity." Business Ethics Quarterly 16.1 (2006): 3-21. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. Belfort, Jordan. The Wolf of Wall Street. New York, NY: Bantam, 2007. Print. Leonard, Tom. "Jordan Belfort: Confessions of the Wolf of Wall Street." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 30 Nov. 0025. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3635727/Jordan-Belfort-Confessions-of-the-Wolf-of-Wall-Street.html>. Solomon, Brian. "Meet The Real 'Wolf Of Wall Street' In Forbes' Original Takedown Of Jordan Belfort." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Dec. 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2013/12/28/meet-the-real-wolf-of-wall-street-in-forbes-original-takedown-of-jordan-belfort/>. The Wolf of Wall Street. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. Paramount Pictures, 2013.