The them outward desperate displays of men trying to

The pop culture
artifact that we’ve chosen is the 2014 Oscar nominated Martin Scorsese’s film
“The Wolf of Wall Street”. The movie is about the life of a stock broker named
Jordan belfort who becomes a millionaire through his ill practices in Wall
Street. It revolves around three main characters namely; Jordan Belfort (played
by Leonardo DiCaprio), Donnie Azoff (played by Jonah Hill) and Naomi Lapaglia
(played by Margot Robbie).

The movie is a
rich mixture of what the world perceives to be successful men and the inclusion
of women in the movie is in complete object sense as women are perceived as
decorative ornaments or trophies of so called successful men. And the amount of
women in a man’s life is in accordance to that particular man’s success in
terms of his monetary value.

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Representation
of women in mainstream media has never been aligning with reality. There are
different levels of absurd extends through which the female character is
portrayed. The most common traits among women shown in media are as they being
docile and compliant. Furthermore the excess of nudity and sex scenes have forced the female
characters to lack in depth and strength primarily because in movies like wolf
of Wall Street, they are depicted as hookers, strippers, gold diggers or in any
other form of sexualized sense. Whereas
on the other hand, men are glorified for their acts of harassment and cunning
mischief or another way to sum up their actions would be to call them outward
desperate displays of men trying to show their dominance to fulfill their hegemonic
masculinity needs.

Film theorist
Laura Mulvey wrote about the concept in a 1975 essay, “Visual Pleasure and
Narrative Cinema,” in which she explains that Hollywood often forces the
audience to see a film from a male perspective, causing women on screen to
serve as simple objects of desire. This isn’t the fault of an individual
director per se. Rather, the problem is systemic. Hollywood creates “magic”
through a manipulation of visual pleasure, coding the erotic “into the language
of the dominant patriarchal order. (Herbst, 2014)

But this so
called magic that Hollywood creates has far reaching effects on human mindset
and how women and men perceive each other to be. Generation after generation is
molded mentally by these absurd twisted portrayals of women. Women on
television and films are in majority tall, beautiful, thin, big breasted and
between the age of sixteen and thirty. What is hidden is that these women go
under extensive makeovers before appearing on our screens, by the help of
makeup and digital facial enhancing programs. Moreover in print adverts women
are photo shopped in terms of their neck height, cheekbones and to remove any
uneven blemishes on their skin this in turn creates unrealistic beauty
standards that women worldwide are forced to follow and when clearly in reality
no one can be as perfect as these doll faces portrayed on the media, a
significant number of women start questioning their beauty which gives way to
women self-objectifying themselves this creates an increase in their feelings
of anxiety and shame henceforth more and more girls are prone to depression and
in urban settlements they opt for plastic surgeries to appear more and more
like their unreal counterparts on media. In a nutshell women start to pay more
attention on the way they appear than on other impactful subjects like the
level of their education or their contribution to their society and economy.
Women are rarely shown in power positions in media which leads to girls not
getting proper role models while growing up.

One-dimensional Naomi (Margot Robbie) the lead actor’s
second wife and the main female character give’s hints throughout the whole
movie about how the desire for masculinity in men and misrepresentation of
women in media are both so deeply embedded in the movie.

In the scene in which the blonde first meets the con
artist, she wears a dramatic skin tight blue mini dress with a cut out revealing a good part
of each breast. Anticipation builds as Stratton associate alerts the men at the
party to look at her. When the camera catches her figure, time almost stands
still. In Mulley’s terms, it’s a moment of “erotic contemplation”: The
spectator is invited to drink her figure as she flashes a demure but dazzling
smile before the camera. (Someone in the background then shouts, “I’d f— her
if she was my sister,” followed by another, who says, “I’d let her give me
AIDS.”) Enter an intoxicated and high Donnie (Jonah Hill), who, upon seeing
her, begins masturbating openly at the party. Naomi reacts not with disgust but
with bemused laughter. (Herbst, 2014)

It’s a vivid
portrayal of hegemonic & toxic masculinity including highly sexualized
portrayals of both men and women. The movie starts off with Jordan Belfort’s
voiceover, introducing him and sharing his success story with the audience.
Born in a middle class family, raised by two accountants, Jordan was now making
million dollars a week. The movie is set in the time of 1980’s when the Women
were in a lot better social state as compared to what they are shown in the
movie (stripers, hookers and gold diggers). Jordan Belfort’s sexuality is a
threat to the “good, white American guy”. In a scene where Jordan Belfort comes
to office on the launching day of “Steve Madden stocks”, one of his sales guy
is seen cleaning a fish pot, upon noticing the guy cleaning a fish pot on a
very important day in the life of the company, Jordan sends his fellow
executive Donnie Azoff to teach the guy a lesson, Donnie comes to the guy and
inquires him for cleaning the fish pot on an important day, to which the sales
guy replies that “I got a min free, so I thought maybe I should clean the fish
pot before work”, to this Donnie takes out the goldfish and swallows it in
front of the whole crowd and kicks the sale guy out of the office this scene is
a vivid display of work place harassment yet the audience seems to get pleased.
In another scene Jordan and his executive directors are seen sitting in a conference
room talking about ways to celebrate their weekly record ending in which they
made a million dollar, one of the directors talks about throwing “small people”
A.K.A midgets (in the movie) to a giant dart game, to which Jordan says what if
they get hurt and Donnie Azoff adds that they won’t get hurt because we’ll use
a cushioning on the floor and also he tells everyone not to have an eye contact
with them because that would make them scared, which is really not true because
small people are also human and it’s just that they are different than other,
it does not mean that they also feel differently when someone makes an eye
contact with them. It’s not only Jordan’s sexuality that makes it tough for
other men to cope up with him; it becomes difficult for her wife too. As seen
in the movie, Jordan is previously married to a woman he fell in love with,
they scared mutual respect and cared for each other, but eventually when Jordan
meets a girl named Naomi in his house warming party, he falls in love with her
and cheats on his wife which led to their divorce.

Jordan Belfort,
throughout the movie is seen swearing, using drugs and indulging in
prostitution three to four times a week. His toxic behaviour led to his divorce
with Naomi later on. The scene in which Jordan is set to launch Steve Madden’s
stocks, he and his team is also seen misbehaving with Steve Madden and making
fun of him for what they called “fat women shoe” design. This shows his
professionalism in his business deals, moreover in a scene Jordan tries to
bribe FBI agents when the visit his yacht for questioning, when he fails to
bribe them, he throws lobsters and dollar bills to show his power and also says
that “good luck on the subway ride home to your miserable, ugly looking fucking
wives”. All of this shows how toxic he was for men around him. Well not just
men, women are shown in a much worst state in this movie, Jordan Belfort to
celebrate their weekly gross income offers one of his sales girl to shave off
her head for $10,000 which is not something that portrays respect for women. Even
when he serves two years in prison, he comes back to his office and says “the
show goes on, I am not leaving. They’ll going to need a fucking wrecking ball
to take me down”. This shows that Jordan Belfort did not only deeply love his
way of life but even after federal investigations, he was confident enough to
practice his ill business again.

This film
strengthens the idea of underscored femininity, which is portrayed as women
being reliant, sexually responsive and mediocre compared to men. The majority
of women in the film are seen performing sexual acts and a considerable lot of
them are seen completely or mostly nude. For the men at Belfort’s office, Women
are objects of excitement or take part in sexual favors and all the more
essentially are for the most part white, youthful, thin and excellent who don’t
fulfill any role of significance. From my observations the only women who were
not found in a corrupting way were those engaged with the administration
business or putting Belfort in jail. Strangely enough, the women in these parts
were both of shading, elderly or not what is for the most part viewed as
“Beautiful” in contrast with the others. (Aulette and Whitner 2012).

Talking about
the portrayal of gay men in the movie, there is a scene where the head chef (a
gay man), hired by Naomi Lapaglia, throws a gay party in absence of the owner
of the pent house and all they are seen doing is sex, which is again a one
dimensional portrayal of gay people in the movie because they are shown in
scenes of high profanity. Moving on to the portrayal of black people in the
movie, well there are near to none except for the sales guy and a few police
officers in Jordan Belfort’s office. Since the movie is set in a time when a
lot of black American community was into Wall Street, yet the movie fails to
portray it.

According to an article in the Oxford University press The Wolf of Wall
Street is the embodiment of the glorification of hypersexual, upper
class, white men where anybody else who does not fit that category is
objectified or poorly represented.

The message
this film is sending is that the men on Wall Street are nothing but
testosterone and cocaine-fuelled, moneymaking sex machines. In my opinion,
Scorsese is depicting the way of life of Wall Street individuals as the
standard of the elite class. In a scene where Belfort is investigating his gay
head servant about missing, fifty thousand dollars from his sock cabinet after
the steward hosted a gathering in one of Belfort’s penthouses; the scene is
attracted out a way the head servant gives off an impression of being a
criminal. I discovered this scene extremely unexpected since the head servant
was not the person who took the cash in any case, and keeping in mind that
Belfort and his team are robbing people millions of dollars as their job. The
only gay man in the film was viewed as a terrible person, while the genuine
crooks, which fit an evidently more overwhelming Heteronormative status, are
extolled and encouraged to do as such.

Asides from the
one gay character in the movie, all the rest fit into these four categories of
stereotypical men; men accomplish as much as they want to, earn bunches of
cash, are sentimental partners and ought to participate in dangerous acts. (Aulette
and Whitner 2012)

I think why
Hollywood chose to look up to such men who treat others with dishonesty and
disrespectful manner. These kinds of stories are unfortunately what I think
many people find entertaining because it does not fit the profile of the
average person. The hegemonistic methods for Hollywood have shelled us with the
idea that maybe these are the films that individuals like since it is a
dreamland. How far will the individual go without getting captured? What
terrible lewdness will they have the capacity to escape with? They are in a place
of authority where they get the chance to choose who is viewed as a legend and
how they are represented. While I do regard the way that movie makers and
executives may not change the race, sex or class of movie characters to stay
consistent with the first story, I do however have an issue with whose stories
they show.

I would
thoroughly enjoy seeing this same story through the eyes of Belfort’s first
wife, whom he repeatedly cheated on and left as he found his way to the top. I
wonder if people would respond as positively as they had for this story.

 

References

Herbst, M. (2014, febuary 9). www.aljazeera.com.
Retrieved from http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/wolf-of-wall-streetmalegaze.html.
 Aulette, A.R. and J.
Wittner.Gendered Worlds. 2012. Oxford University Press. (2): 10, 177,
400-408, 414-416,  

 

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