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Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen in Network (1976)

Wall Street in the American imagination is simultaneously held in a state of contempt and awe. It’s the site of both magic and misery.

The name “Wall Street” itself has become a shorthand to denote the capitalist class. Yet, Wall Street is only a segment of this class, known as Finance Capital. 

Finance Capital has become a growing segment within capitalism since the 1970s due to the decline in American manufacturing. Manufacturing took a dive during the 1970s in America due to the postwar recovery of European industries and the emergence of Asian competitors. Big swings in oil prices during the OPEC crisis of 1973, as well as inflationary spending from the Vietnam War, also broke the halcyon days of American prosperity, to which many politicians and their constituents today look to return rather than an anachronism. 

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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

If you had to choose a theme for this holiday blockbuster season, you could make a strong argument that it is delusion. I spent my vacation time away from work in the company of some of the most arrogant, excessive and stubborn characters I have ever seen on a silver screen. Some were relatively grounded; others were space cadets. American Hustle, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and The Wolf of Wall Street all displayed varying degrees of lunacy and screwiness in movies where the central characters were all tied together by the size of their kaiju-like egos.

Holiday movies tend to be a bit warmer with a focus on a hero or redeeming character. You can probably get this fuzzy feeling from films like Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But it seems to me that the three most buzz-worthy offerings would rather you go running to your raucous family gathering for escape rather than go to the movies to avoid more awkward meals with your second cousin.

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