It’s a truism that sequels rarely live up to classics. If, like me, you’re a fan of the original Wall Street movie, you probably approached Money Never Sleeps with at least a degree of skepticism. Yet the film debuted at #1 over the weekend, grossing more than $19 million. Regardless of your take on the flick’s quality, its context within the current social and economic climate is fitting – enhancing the public appeal.
The first Wall Street movie concluded with protagonist, Gordon Gekko, going to jail for spearheading insider trading schemes. Gekko’s notorious proclamation that “Greed is Good” became a mantra in business circles, and lightning rod for critics of capitalism run amok. In today’s post-subprime mortgage era, financial rules have been reset and many suggest the arrival of a humbler and more sustainable “New Normal.” Deservingly, greed without guidelines has been thrown under the bus.
Money Never Sleeps begins with Gekko emerging from the slammer, repentant and eager to share his newfound wisdom. He encounters a young, ambitious trader – the kind Gekko used to chew up and spit out – and the two develop a working relationship. Much of the rest of the movie is typical Hollywood fare: good, evil, revenge, love, loss and triumph. But one underlying detail signals the Wall Street of 2010, rather than 1987, when the first Wall Street film was released and green finance was barely on the mainstream radar. Gekko’s new confidant, Jake Moore, has a penchant for investing in renewable energy. This subplot is a sign of the times, as global clean tech venture investment for the 1st half of 2010 reached a record high of $4.04 billion.
From Wall Street the movie to Wall Street the institution, the Green Wave is amplifying. We observe greening in almost every facet of society: the advancement of clean technologies, the evolution of recycling, the proliferation of alternative energy, the maturity of socially responsible investing, the emergence of sustainable apparel and the growth of organic foods. If consumers demand it, and governments facilitate it, then investors will fund it, and businesses will provide it.
As an ode to the enlightened Gordon Gekko and, more importantly, a call to action for all the real Gordon Gekkos that make our world turn, I offer the following contemporary twist on his most famous words:
The point is, ladies and gentleman, that Green, for lack of a better word, is good. Green is right, Green works. Green clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Green, in all of its forms; Green for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And Green, you mark my words, will save that malfunctioning corporation called The World. Thank you very much.
– Green Gordon Gekko
Article by Ashok Kamal, Co-Founder of Bennu, which is a socially responsible product development and marketing company that completes the recycling loop.