For an Eve player Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is a fascinating view. Filled to the brim with a record setting number of F-bombs, parade of financial scams, copious nudity and procession of misogynist characters, the movie also delivers an extended meditation on humiliation.
Following a little prodding by his soon to be ex first wife, The Wolf of Wallstreet’s anti-hero protagonist Jordon Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) decides it’s time to upscale his penny stock scam business by targeting the wealthy rather than the destitute. To achieve this goal Belfort gathers his ragtag band of brigands for scripted education in reeling in wealthy marks. The scene culminates with Belfort demonstrating the power of the script by scamming a wealthy client via over the phone sales pitch all the while pantomiming editorial commentary for his ragtag disciples. As the dual narrative sales pitch develops it’s worth noting that Belfort spends nearly as much time explicitly demonstrating vulgar intentions towards his client’s sorry ass and/or flipping off his wealthy client as he does actually selling the client worthless penny stocks. The takeaway is clear. This is as much about getting over on the rich as it is about making money. Humiliation is a central motive behind the scamming.
Following successful ragtag brigand disciple scamming montage we arrive at end of the week motivational festivities taking place in Belfort’s now well established off-exchange brokerage house Stratton Oakmont. To pump up his increasing number of brokers, Belfort announces that a sales assistant has agreed to have her head shaved for $10,000 as kick off to their weekly act of debauchery. From the volunteer assistant’s point of view a heartbreaking scene then unfolds wherein an underwear dressed marching band, horns blaring, struts in on the scene drowning out the head shaving kickoff thereby leaving the assistant, money carelessly dumped into her lap, suddenly irrelevant and left to find her own way out of the building, presumably never to return. Turns out she wasn’t buying in, she was being sold out. Humiliation is a one way street to insignificance. Be humiliated, become irrelevant.
Working up the scam ladder, Belfort and disciples are a little anxious on the day of their Steve Madden ‘pump and dump’ initial public offering. To break the tension and hone up the brokers on new issue day, Belfort releases his number one disciple and partner Donnie Azoff (played by Jonah Hill) to go on the hunt. Seeing a bow tie wearing, fish bowl cleaning nobody, Azoff circles in for the kill. Both unsuited to and unprepared for the assault, Bow Tie mumbles and stumbles as Donnie ratchets up the humiliation into a very public firing topped off with a gold fish eating crescendo. “A real wolf pit,” comments Belfort, “which is exactly how I liked it.” The message is understood by all. There are only two types of people on the floor, predators and prey. Where one stands in the binary is both determined and revealed by who humiliates whom.
With the astounding success of their vast array of scams, Stratton Oakmont begins to receive not only Securities and Exchange Commission but also Federal Bureau of Investigation attention generating the need to secret illicit cash into uninvestigable Swiss bank accounts. To facilitate the transfers, Belfort calls in the courier services of drug dealing friend Brad Bodnik (played by Jon Bernthal). Unwilling to play the role of humiliated prey to disciple Azoff, Bodnik and Azoff’s careless dispute about who works for whom quickly spirals out of control into an extended wife humiliating, gay baiting fight that initially hands Azoff a bloody nose and later hands Bodnik a three month jail term. The wolf pit binary leaves little room for mutual respect.
Scene 5 . . .
Though I could continue (the movie stages a very thorough meditation), I suspect you get the gist by now. As scene four reveals, Stratton Oakmont’s relentless in/out, black/white, hunter/prey, perpetrator/victim dynamic makes mutually beneficial arrangements not only difficult but incoherent. As cruelly enjoyable as they can be, Stratton Oakmont’s stark binaries take you only so far before sputtering to a self-imploding cannibalistic break. As the movie progresses, Belfort discovers he’s unable to avoid impending FBI instigated collapse as negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement under the inflexible binary declares him an utter and complete looser the moment he stops humiliating the bureau. Either he continues winning via humiliation day in and day out or he drops forever into ignoble irrelevancy. Once you buy in, there is no escape.
The Eve Connection:
Eve, by design, is similar to the Stratton Oakmont floor. Accordingly, when entering the game every player is granted the option to partake in, ignore or resist its cruel delights. Choose as you see fit, I won’t judge, but do remember that whatever your choice, Eve will neither protect nor punish you for it. The reach of your choice, whether ‘good’ or ‘evil’, extends only as far your individual grasp. Good luck Pilot.