'In Character' On the Air

On Air: Gordon Gekko

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Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko.

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This morning, biz reporter Jim Zarroli digs into one of the movies' most famous claims: "Greed is good."

Did you know there's a sequel in the works? The screenwriter tells Zarroli that Michael Douglas' Gekko was so charismatic that he undercut the movie's cautionary-tale impulse:

"What do you want to be coming out of the movie? Do you want to be Bud Fox, broken and downtrodden and never having quite made it? Or do you want to be Gordon Gekko, who, yeah he's going to jail, but what a swashbuckler he was until the very last moment?"

Check it out.

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No way, not me. I don't admire Gordon Gekko at all. My hero has always been the antithesis of Gekko, the principled Longfellow Deeds of Capra's 1936 classic "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town." And while we're at it, among lawyer types I admire Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson, "In the Name of the Father," 1993) and Jan Schlichtmann (John Travolta, "A Civil Action," 1998).

Sent by Dawn Wright | 12:15 PM | 2-17-2008

Gordon Gekko may not function well in today's capitalist world of more diligent regulators, but that assumes Gekko maintains his old ways of insider trading and illegal stock maneuvering.

Nowadays, saavy and aggressive financiers, rather than flouting the law, take advantage of it, packaging together highly risky investments such as the subprime-mortgage backed collaterized debt obligations and selling them to high profile financial institutions, who, with the imprimatur of their corporate reputation, pass them on to gullible investors: a house of cards built on the backs of those least able to sustain debt, the subprime mortgage holders who defaulted on their loans as home valuations fell. We've seen this before with the Reagan-era Savings and Loan crisis and Michael Milken Milken junk bonds scandal, and we'll see it again as long as people are willing to forego morality and a concern for others in their pursuit of profit.

It is not the law breakers we need worry about, but those who push the limits of the law while passing off the responsibility for their actions to others, pocketing a nice sum while others suffer for their greed.

Sent by John Brown | 3:32 AM | 2-20-2008

Gekko is the embodiment of every pathetic soul who thinks that their personal unhappiness can be made more bearable by success and power. Unfortunately, the more they get, the more they want, and that vacancy where most people have feelings and convictions stays empty. Sometimes such driven people do something that actually creates a useful entity that outlives them, but most of them leave behind little but money, bad feelings, and other people's ruined lives . . .

Sent by Matthew Patton | 1:29 PM | 3-9-2008

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