Film Analysis: Wall Street and Election

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Film Analysis: Wall Street and Election

                                        Wall Street / Election

        Oliver Stone, in his film “Wall Street”, portrays an ambitious stockbroker, Bud Fox, with a desire to reach the top and who is willing to do anything in order to achieve his goal, even if it takes illegal actions like taking inside information and going beyond all rules of ethics. Fox wants to get in contact to his hero, Gordon Gekko, a famous Wall Street player who has achieved success by manipulating inside information of companies. His approach is that greed is good and nothing will stop him to get a good arrangement.
Even though Gordon Gekko’s character is not portrayed positively in the film, many young people interpreted him as a hero and wanted to be like him after seeing the movie. “They headed to Wall Street because the culture — charisma, money, greed — was enticing. It seems great, but people often forget that things didn’t work out so well for Gekko in the end. Greed is good only up to a point, even on Wall Street,” writes Lo.
The film stresses the issues of ethics in the financial industry. In fact, the film did have a big impact on the culture of the financial industry. Andrew Lo, a finance professor at MIT suggested that the reason people act dishonorably at work might be much more about the corporate culture than the individuals themselves.[1] He talks about how corporate culture can send negative values to the members and urges people for bad behavior. Andrew Lo connects this to the film and calls it the Gekko effect: “The Gekko effect highlights the fact that some corporate cultures may transmit negative values to their members in ways that make financial malfeasance significantly more probable.”[2] 

        Tracy’s character in the film “Election” was depicted as a high school student archetype- the one know-it-all student in the class who tends to be an annoying overachiever perfectionist. She became an icon and her portrayal in the film resulted in using “Tracy Flick” as a description for the behaviors of certain women in politics, business, and popular culture. Elizabeth Dole, an American politician who served in the United States Senate and in the presidential administrations for both, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, has been described as a “Tracy Flick” by Roger Ebert, an American film critic, journalist.  He describes her as “a person who always seems to be presenting you with a logical puzzle for which she is the answer… She is always perfectly dressed and groomed, and is usually able to conceal her hot temper behind a facade of maddening cheerfulness. But she is ruthless. She reminds me of a saying attributed to David Merrick: ‘It is not enough for me to win. My enemies must lose.'”[3] Tracy Flick has frequently been compared to Hillary Clinton. In 2008, Slate Magazine produced a video mashup, comparing Clinton’s campaign footage to Tracy Flick’s scenes from the film. Christian Science Monitor stated that Clinton, in her biography “Living History”, writes about her high school experience when the school created a Cultural Values Committee where she was selected. “This was both my first appearance on television and my first experience with an organized effort to stress American values of pluralism, mutual respect, and understanding,”[4] she writes. With this, Christian Science Monitor compares Clinton to Tracy Flick: “There is obviously some truth here, but the tone of the passage reeks of Tracy Flick, the overachieving, overly serious high school student from the film ‘Election.’”[5]   

        The reason Tracy Flick bothers Mr. McAllister so much is that she is an overachiever and strives for perfection. She wants to make sure he sees her efforts and the work she puts in to achieve her goals. Tracy is very ambitious and will get to whatever goal she has by doing whatever it takes to achieve it.
Mr. McAllister is portrayed as a very positive, loved teacher, who is devoted to his work and happy with his professional place. However, he is sexually tempted and frustrated, which leads him to make bad decisions and pursue unethical behaviors. With the fear of Tracy Flick becoming the president and having to work with her throughout the year, Mr. McAllister falsifies the elections. This kind of behavior is not justified and is unethical. His behavior might have been different, for sure, if Tracy was male. He would not been frustrated sexually, would never look for another candidate for the election and simply would not falsify the results. However, there is another side too. If we disregard the fact that he was sexually tempted and focus on the fact that he did not want specifically Tracy to win the elections because of her overachiever characteristics, he would still falsify the elections so that Tracy would not be able to satisfy her ambitions.
Either way his behavior is unethical. No matter what the reason stands behind his actions, a professor who teaches what is ethical and moral and later disregards rules of ethics himself cannot be justified.