08/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rethinking Wall Street : Why Bernie Madoff Makes Gordon Gekko Look Like Zac Efron

Gordon Gekko, the ultra-capitalist villain of Oliver Stone's 1987 film Wall Street, has stood atop the heap of film's all-time corporate bad guys for over 20 years. Played with cold-blooded charisma by Michael Douglas in an Oscar-winning performance, Gekko is the capitalist devil/Darth Vader, seducing young Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) with the riches, perks and power of the corporate dark side if Bud would only abandon his morals and soul.

As the sordid details of the economic meltdown are revealed, it's clear that Gordon Gekko has nothing on the real corporate supervillains walking freely among us today. Bernie Madoff makes Gordon Gekko look like Zac Efron.

You can check out my ReThink Review of Wall Street here or click on the pic below. (Due to copyright nonsense, I can't embed the video in this post, so you'll be redirected to YouTube. And even though I call this a Brave New Review in the video, don't listen! ReThink Reviews is where it's at!)


We now see that Gekko was the not the zenith of corporate corruption, but the jumping off point. In a 2007 WNYC interview, Michael Douglas revealed that he is still accosted by drunken businessmen in bars and restaurants who want to tell him how Gordon Gekko inspired them to start careers in investment banking. Gekko's infamous "Greed is good" speech was meant to be a villain's manifesto, like a dictator calmly providing moral justification for the slaughter of millions. But instead, "Greed is good" became a rallying cry for businessmen and republicans across the country who still claim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that maximizing one's personal greed is somehow the path to a better world for all.

And the crime that Gekko is ultimately nailed for is... insider trading. Really? The last criminal mastermind I remember being nailed for that is Martha Stewart, and I'm pretty sure that selling $230,00 in ImClone stock didn't ruin many lives or bring the world economy to the edge of collapse.

Apparently there's a sequel to Wall Street in the works, which picks up with Gekko being released from jail and attempting to re-enter the financial world. If he does, he better wear a cup and hold onto his wallet. Gordon might have been a killer in the 80s, but this new generation eats Gekkos for breakfast.

To see me discuss Wall Street on Cenk Uygur's XM/Air America show, The Young Turks, click here.

For more ReThink Reviews -- the only (and, therefore, best) political movie reviews anywhere -- go here.