‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Deemed Offensive to Disabled – Big Deal? [POLL]
Movies about people who live on the fringes of society are supposed to be somewhat accurate in their portrayals.
To have seen “Goodfellas”, “The Godfather”, or any movie where the main character or characters are “neer do wells”, one would expect more than a little politically incorrect behavior.
So why the hubbub over the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street?”
Those who advocate for people with disabilities say the movie makes fun of Cerebral Palsy - and there’s liberal use of the “R” word throughout the movie – along with a record number of “f-bombs” spoken.
Should it really matter that the main characters are “politically incorrect” in their manner and speech?
"The Wolf of Wall Street" star Leonardo DiCaprio may have been singing Martin Scorsese's praises when accepting the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical Sunday. But others are condemning the film – a tale about real-life boiler room stockbroker Jordan Belfort – with groups that advocate on behalf of people with disabilities slamming its treatment of such subject matter Monday.
"'The Wolf of Wall Street' is getting a lot of attention for how it offends audiences on many levels, but one aspect that hasn't been discussed is its use of the R-word and its unacceptable mockery of people with cerebral palsy. Hollywood just doesn't seem to get it," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, a group that serves people with disabilities, in a joint statement with the president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy, Stephen Bennett.
"Among moviegoers who have paid to see 'The Wolf of Wall Street' in recent weeks are people with disabilities, their parents, siblings, and friends. It's time for Hollywood to wake up and see that their customers deserve better," Berns also said.
The film's prolific use of the R-word in a derogatory manner comes alongside 569 variations of "f--k" and myriad other instances of obscene language. There's also a scene in which Belfort (played by DiCaprio) compares his behavior after an overdose of Quaaludes to having cerebral palsy.
"While we understand that the film's content is deliberately distasteful and excessive, it does not excuse it. It is astonishing that the film's producers, director and actors deemed this kind of language and portrayal to be acceptable – they can do better, and we urge them to," Bennett said.
The film's treatment of disabilities is just one of many aspects of "The Wolf of Wall Street" that has spurred intense reaction. Much of the debate has revolved around whether it glorifies Belfort's bad behavior, particularly after an open letter to the filmmakers by the daughter of one of Belfort's colleagues. It also has been suggested that the film is homophobic and misogynistic.
Defenders of the film insist that it is not condoning such views, but rather critiquing and satirizing them.
"The book was a cautionary tale and if you sit through the end of the film, you'll realize what we're saying about these people and this world, because it's an intoxicating one," DiCaprio has said.
When asked by Gold Derby editor Tom O'Neil about the controversies surrounding the film in a video chat posted last weekend, Scorsese said, "I find that it's disappointing at times. It's frustrating, but on the other hand the film seems to be about something that people can talk about – some may disagree, some do disagree, some do not, and this is an open dialogue."
He added, "I try to show it as profanely, and as in a sense [with] a touch of obscenity, in the same way these people feel about other people – the contempt that they feel about other people in terms of money."
It’s called realism. Yes, it’s unfortunate that there are people in this world who could be so crass toward those less fortunate then themselves – but to not show them as they are would not be a genuine portrayal.
Movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street” don’t glorify insensitive behavior anymore than the “The Godfather” or “Goodfellas” glorified the mob.
Not portraying the life of the movie’s main character as he was would have served no purpose.