Inside Job – Wall Street. Ditch Street.
As “Inside Job” (2010) rolls into end credits, a woman sitting behind me sighed heavily and blurted aloud: “Well, that was better than a soap opera now, wasn’t it?”
My back stiffened in the seat and I resisted the urge to look back. In the darkness as I came in to the cinema, the same woman had lean forward and loudly whispered if I can not sit directly in front of her (there were only three empty seats in the row in front of her, I sat in the outermost edge one), but that’s not why I didn’t look back. It was because at that very moment there were two possibilities: she was joking, or she was serious.
And at that very moment, I could not handle the latter. At that very moment, I could not handle a single more inconsiderate, self-entitled person.
Because for the prior 120 minutes, I endured many, many of those people. “Inside Job” was full of them. Draped in expensive suits, heads balding, temples silvering, brows furrowed, rosy-cheeked, they looked straight-faced into the camera and told lies, gave vague answers, made laughable statements, and were ugly, unsightly, messes of human beings. While they stumbled with their words and tried their best to look not guilty, lives of millions of people crumbled around them, and so did the world that held those lives.
Goldman Sachs. Lehman Brothers. Etceteras. The senior executives of those Wall Street companies will never meet the people whose live-savings they hold within their palms, and yet from the congregation of those tiny drops of hard-earned wealth the executives will pocket millions and bet and hedge even more. Billions. Trillions. Unimaginable numbers that seem foreign to an average middle-class citizen, and yet he and she are the warm bodies who collect these numbers — dollars — and then unknowingly pass them onto the silver-haired strange men who reside on a street with the name of a piece of integral, fundamental architecture, except those men no longer have any integrity left, nor do they care about the foundation of the country they live in. Instead of supporting the people who provide them of their livings, they gamble dangerously with the people’s. Instead of taking care of those who take care of them, the Wall Streeters slowly, knowingly, set them up for destruction.
Wall Street? More like Ditch Street. Dig at the foundation of a country: it’s economy and people, as deeply as you can, as frequently and recklessly as you can, build your own mansions on the fringe and then when the pit finally collapses claim: oops, I didn’t mean to! I didn’t know this was going to happen! And then go sleep soundly in your mansions while those in the pit stare up into the pitch dark sky.
Wall Street. What a joke.
Charles Ferguson‘s documentary takes the whispers and strands we have heard throughout the recent economic collapse and confidently spin them into a clear, sensible narrative, taking us from the inception of greed to its eventual collapse and continuity. This is strong, beautiful work, the telling of a fascinating story that distills very complicated topics into comprehensible issues, understood in lay-men terms. This is important — because the people who need to see this film, the people who may actually do something to change the course of their futures — need to understand how it works, and specifically how it works for them.
Because as you will see, the “experts” already knew how things worked, they just didn’t have the conscience to make the right choices.
And why didn’t they? Throughout the film, I watched the top echelon of our society — mostly individuals blessed with quality education, relative intelligence, and the infinite potential to do good — turn away from the-right-thing-to-do time and time again. Instead they buy houses with too much space and planes with no directions and splash monthly salaries on nightly prostitutes and cocaine. Why?
I guess the obvious answer is greed, but that can’t be it all. Someone explains in the film that a recent study pinpoints the parts of human brain that are stimulated by the pursuit of making money as the same areas stimulated by cocaine use. Does this mean that these money-hungry Wall Street executives get a free pass because their behaviours may be biochemically reinforced? That, gosh, they are just addicted to living large?
And to that I say a resounding NO. To that I call bullshit. Love can be traced back to a biochemical reaction too, but no one high on love is putting ten million migrant workers out of work in China, or forcing a father of three to work over-overtime to support a shitty mortgage, or emptying the pension benefits of retirement homes of an entire state. This is too important. This. Is. Too. Important.
In the end it comes back to the people: the people who were robbed of what they thought were safe; the people who put their trust in a system that they thought was sound, but wasn’t. In the end, it is these people who need to use their electoral votes to put people who will make the right choices, into the right places, so that when the right time comes, they can make those right choices and make things right once again. Those are a lot of Rights that need to line up for change to happen, I know, but don’t the people deserve them? Don’t they deserve change and reform of a corrupt system that is public knowledge?
Someone once promised that those changes would come, and I, along with a lot of people, believed him. Now it seems like those promises are still pending, and the status quo is still intact. So, now, I wonder: When? Who? How? I bet a lot of other people are wondering the same thing too, those who lie awake at night beside their loved ones, staring into the dark sky and wondering if, and when, morning light will come.