Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, released in the UK in January, is based on a memoir by Jordan Belfort, notorious broker who started from dealing oft-ridiculed penny stocks and raised to obscene wealth before turning 26. The film has been largely praised by critics and Leonardo DiCaprio’s bravura performance as Belfort earned him a Golden Globe.
Some have protested that real-life Belfort, minus silver screen mesmerising appeal, conned many people out of their livelihood and that given current economic climate, he is perhaps not the best candidate for the hero of our times.
Numerous self-identified “feminist critics” expressed their opinion on the representation of women in the film, who are mostly naked and mostly prostitutes. The spectrum is broad, from Sara Benincasa of Jezebel asserting: “The Wolf of Wall Street is not a misogynist film. It is instead a vivid portrayal of misogyny (and greed, and cruelty, and selfishness, and institutionalized sociopathy)” to Erin Landau of Bustle calling the film “the year’s most misogynist blockbuster”.
The F-Word contributor Lizzie Ferguson joins the fray saying:
“I know what the counter-argument is here. The film is portraying two seemingly despicable individuals: people who have no moral code, who are substance abusers, who abuse their wives and children. Not exactly pillars of society. But that doesn’t really come off. The dark humour throughout the film keeps it light, there is no sense of a moral retribution, only the pursuit of money. And who doesn’t want to pursue money in this day and age! Especially when fully-waxed girls are involved. The sheer volume of female flesh becomes so constant that it is more noticeable when a scene doesn’t feature a naked woman.
“Girls” are thrown around like discarded shirts, simpering, drinking, dancing, prostituting. Watching it as an enlightened and educated young woman with my boyfriend, I felt second-class as a sex, and there is nothing I hate more.”