Excerpted from Goodbye Gordon Gekko.Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Goodbye Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul by Anthony Scaramucci. Copyright (c) 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
By Anthony Scaramucci
Watching it in the late 1980s, we all took something very different from the film and identified with its different characters, both the good and the bad. Personally, I thought the movie exposed some of the more immoral characters and despicable parts of life on Wall Street. However, even today, people still recite the lines, wear the suspenders, and ultimately try to act like its most unsavory character, Gordon Gekko. Gekko was a fast-talking, high-earning, ruthless, and greedy Wall Street legend whose specialty was manipulating the market and taking over and wrecking companies. Having made lots of money, he led the high life, which seemingly made some of his illegal actions and self-centered advice justifiable.I often think of that scene in the original Wall Street movie when Bud Fox, the young, ambitious stock broker from Queens, meets the uber-beast Gordon Gekko. As Bud waits outside his idol's office to present him with a box of Cuban cigars for his birthday, he stares at his reflection in the mirror and says "Life all comes down to a few moments; this is one of them." As he walks in and sees the slick Gekko doing business, he is easily seduced by the man's swagger and opulent office. You see, Bud desperately wants to be a part of the inside crowd, get rich quick, and "bag the elephant." Faust with a yellow tie, briefcase, and suspenders, he got sucked into the promise of fame and fortune, and began to break the rules and go down the path of self destruction and immorality. Over the past 20 years on the Street, I have done business with many people who wanted to be like Gordon Gekko and actually lived by his motto, "Greed is good." This Wall Street mantra couldn't be further from the truth, yet it is one of the most infamous sentences in Hollywood history. Oliver Stone is a master at composite sketches and designed the sentence. Ivan Boesky, a disgraced arbitrageur, more or less said something like that during the hyperacquisitive 1980s. Why has that sentence had such impact? For starters, it's asymmetric. The word greed is a negative word, is is a neutral word and good is a positive word. It jars your brain with asymmetry. If Oliver Stone had written in the screenplay "Greed is bad," it would sit just fine with all of us. It would have been conventional and, as such, forgotten. The fact that he had Gekko say, "Greed is good" stuck in our collective craw as a rejection of one of society's basic tenets. It made us think, and made us question our values. Is greed good? Of course it isn't. Greed -- and the desire for money and power -- causes good people to make a series of bad decisions until they are no longer considered good. Tempted by fortune, lavish material possessions, and thoughts of an American Express black card, people line up and stand ready to trade in their soul and their values to be "somebody."
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