Men Who Changed the World: Gordon Gekko

Twenty three years after Gordon Gekko commanded his most famous line: “Greed is good”, we find Gordon questionably reformed after spending time in jail; and while giving a speech to a bunch of students where he’s promoting his new book Is Greed Good? he says: “Someone once reminded me I said “Greed is good”, now it seems it’s legal.”

Gordon Gekko is one of those characters that are such a powerhouse of a villain no one would ever even think of making the case that he’s an antihero. He has no distinguishable human characteristics except for greed, disgust and lusting for more. Gordon Gekko molded the minds of the people who shaped our current economic state.

I’m not going as far as saying our current economic collapse is the responsibility of this fictional character, but I do think the character had a major influence on the younger generation of Wall Street. Gordon Gekko wants one thing: power. Every move he makes in both “Wall Street” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is calculated to the exact degree. None of his moves are on impulse or irrational. He knows how to play the game.

Gordon Gekko reflects what is inside of all of us; the desire for self improvement, the lusting for more, and the human instinct to protect yourself before worrying about anything else. Gekko isn’t a caricature like Patrick Bateman, he is a reflection of real life. There are real Gordon Gekko’s in the world, there are those who hold the livelihoods of many, many people and without any compassion would ruin people’s lives to not only make a profit, but also to wreck it because it’s “wreckable”.

What keeps us from despising the shit out of this character is the fact that Oliver Stone cast the charismatic and talented Michael Douglas. To add on top of the casting of Douglas, Gordon Gekko is given great lines of dialogue in both films, they are memorable and they make want to do a fist pump.

Quotes from “Wall Street”

  • “Lunch is for wimps.”
  • “When I get a hold of the son of a bitch who leaked this, I’m gonna tear his eyeballs out and I’m gonna suck his fucking skull.”
  • “You’re walking around blind without a cane pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”
  • “What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”
  • “I’m gonna make you rich Bud Fox.”
  • “Every battle is won before it’s fought.”
  • “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”
  • “You see that building? I bought that building ten years ago. My first real estate deal. Sold it two years later, made an $800,000 profit. It was better than sex. At the time I thought that was all the money in the world. Now, it’s a day’s pay.”
  • “Jesus! If this guy owned a funeral parlor – nobody would die! This turkey is totally brain dead!”
  • “Money never sleeps pal.”
  • “Greed – for lack of a better word – is good.”

Quotes from “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

  • “It’s not about the money. It’s about the game.”
  • “Someone once reminded me I once said “Greed is good”. Now it seems it’s legal. Because everyone is drinking the same Kool Aid.”
  • “Why don’t you start calling me Gordon.”
  • “Money is a lying bitch pal, she sleeps with one eye open, and before you know it – you wake up the next morning and she’s gone.”
  • “They took my life – and when I got out who’s waiting for me? Nobody!”
  • “Payback. Expect I’m not in that business anymore; because the one thing I learned in jail is that money is not the prime asset in life. Time is.”
  • “It’s easy to get in – it’s hard to get out.”
  • “I’ll stop telling the truth about you when you stop telling lies about me.”

Watching Gordon Gekko deliver these lines is one of the most masculine things I have seen on screen. Gordon Gekko is the definition of masculinity. The way Gekko says these lines is just so sharp, and so threatening. He has this confident air about him, because he knows that he is the man. The power that Gordon Gekko wields is far more powerful than an army or one man’s strength. You may be able to pull a thing or two over on Gekko, but he will eventually win, and he will destroy you, no matter what it takes. He will win.

Gordon Gekko finds himself in an ideal position. He is hated and feared, but we do in fact need him. The new film shows us the repercussions of Gekko’s influence. The film doesn’t blame the popping of the housing bubble on Gekko directly – he’s too smart to have done something like this. He would have known a disaster like this was going to happen. Instead the film shows us how this housing market crash is the fault of the ideology of Gordon Gekko. How when men not half as smart as Gordon Gekko use his playbook but aren’t intelligent enough, or patient enough to succeed.

The reason that there are Gordon Gekko’s is because they stabilize things, they stabilize the market. They realize if they make too many errors, that they will fall with the stock market. They are greedy and emotionless, but they are the ones who have to be in control of not only the American economy but of the world economy.

I think Gordon Gekko has a lot of parallels with Sadam Hussein. They both are truly awful human beings. They have caused an astronomical amount of atrocity and pain; but they are needed for one reason and one reason only. Stabilization. Hussein was stripped of most of his power during the first Gulf War, but he was left in power because he ruled his country with an iron fist. He kept the region of Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia stable. Now that he’s been removed from power – it has created a power vacuum in the region.

You can also make the case that not only is the housing market crash in the film due to Gekko’s influence but also that maybe if Gekko wasn’t in prison for eight years, that this problem could have been avoided. Once Gekko was out of the picture there wasn’t that sound and solid voice to put a stop to the subprime lones. Gekko would have stopped it.

We – for lack of a better word – need Gordon Gekko.


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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

4 thoughts on “Men Who Changed the World: Gordon Gekko”

  1. I can’t say I agree with all your comparisons, but in general a lot of the reasons you pointed out for needing Gordon Gecko makes cold blooded rational sense. It helps that his character comes in charming package that certainly sensationalizes his lifestyle, but I guess that’s the point.

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