When the Cold War ended, filmdom lost its greatest villain - the Russian spies and the Russian generals. Gone were the villains of Bond movies past, or even the foes in comedies such as "Spies Like Us." Many asked where we would find our new movie villains, and in the last few years, we have often found them as terrorists. But terrorists are rarely portrayed in 3-D; usually the movies involving terrorists are more about the people trying to catch them. So, movie villainy needed a new face - and it's found one, in John Thain.
John Thain, rumored as a possible Secretary of the Treasury under John McCain, may be the most arrogant fool on Wall Street, which is saying something, because the competition is fierce. If this were a reality show, Thain would be battling Bernie Madoff, Citigroup and the Big Three executives for the coveted Most Tone-Deaf American title. And at least the Big Three execs seem to have learned a lesson, so they'd get the Bronze in this category.
John Thain impossibly gave huge bonuses to Merrill Lynch executives with your money. That's right - you paid for Merrill's executives to get millions despite the fact that the company was a failure. God, I wish my failures resulted in multi-million dollar bonuses. I'd be able to buy California by now (and California could use the funds). But this isn't the worst of Thain's narcissism.
Thain also remodeled his office for about $1.2 million while his company was failing. Can you imagine the nerve this guy has, to spend all that money on his office - even if the company was a raging success? Thain spent $35,000 on a toilet. I sincerely hope that for that amount of money, Thain's crap turned to gold.
What the hell happens on a $35,000 toilet that makes it so special? While you're sitting on it, does it magically transport you to the Maldives?
I'm looking around my office right now. I've got a good view of L.A., a Jasper Johns lithograph ($240 for the frame), a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge that I took with a disposable camera ($220 for frame), some family photos in five separate frames ($87 total), and a desk, chair and lamp provided for me (probably cost about $250 total). And this is considered a nice office! I wonder what I'd do with a million dollars for decorating. Perhaps I'd buy 5,000 big screen televisions, turn them to the Thain interview on CNBC, shoot holes in the TV's, and then buy 5,000 more big screen TVs. And then toss them out my window and buy 5,000 more. How does that sound?
The question I have about Thain is, where is the shame? Instead of defending himself giving interviews to CNBC, Thain should be apoplectically apologizing. Not one of those, "If I've offended you, I'm sorry," fake apologies, but a real, "I suck and you should throw stones at me," apology. Then he should put on his Speedo and see if he can swim down to the Mariana Trench.
My guess is that movie-making will feature Wall Street villains as the New Bad Guys. No Gordon Gekko's, who are just greedy for greed's sake; I'm talking about Wall Street guys trying to take down the American economy, Wall Street guys working with terrorists. Because the truth is that now, across America, if you say you work on Wall Street, you're going to be thought of us a super villain.
There are no Robin Hood stories on Wall Street now; Madoff didn't steal from the rich to give to the poor. Thain didn't, either. They steal from the middle class to give to their toilets.