Just like the movie he starred in, Leonardo DiCaprio ignored the victims of Wall Street crime and glorified financial industry criminals like Jordan Belfort. This year's award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical should have been a matter of principle. The Wolf of Wall Street had no place taking home any Golden Globes.
While the life of Mr. Belfort portrayed in Martin Scorcese's The Wolf of Wall Street had its comedic moments, it is by no means a comedy. It is at best a drama that catapults the life of low-life penny-stock trader Jordan Belfort from a convict to a celebrity, while glossing over the consequences of his actions.
The sex and drug fueled three-hour movie does not even add a postscript about the thousands of people who lost their money (a majority of whom have yet to be repaid) because of the actions of Jordan Belfort and his ilk. He spent more time defrauding investors than the 22 months he spent in prison. He swindled $200 million away from his clients and despite being required to pay 50 percent of that back in restitution, he has mostly failed to do so. In 2013, federal prosecutors filed a complaint alleging Belfort has not lived up to his legally mandated obligation to repay his investors.
Earlier this month former federal prosecutor Joel M. Cohen, who spent part of his career trying to catch Mr. Belfort, wrote of the film's shortcomings in the New York Times. He notes the inflated sense of self-worth perpetuated by title of the movie and the book that inspired it. He is no hero nor a celebrity.
Hollywood can tell the greatest of stories. It can produce 12 Years a Slave. It can produce Her. But it can also give a platform to violence and crime that has more perverse effects than positive ones. Wall Street crime goes unpunished far too often. There has yet to be one prosecution of the big banks and their executives that oversaw the financial meltdown of 2008. As Attorney General Eric Holder implied to the Senate Judiciary Committee early last year, Wall Street firms may be in fact "too big to jail." In spite of this numbing reality, each time an institution like Hollywood glorifies and awards Wall Street's immoral and deceptive actors, we get farther away from a day when white collar criminals get what they deserve.