No, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders – the class-baiting, rich-hating, flaming socialist seeking the Democrat nomination for president – didn’t actually produce the much ballyhooed Oscar contender, “The Big Short.” But given how effectively the movie advances the candidate’s narrative, he should report it as a campaign donation.
To be fair, the film isn’t solely a propaganda piece and has many positives going for it. It’s creative and funny, and it deliberately makes the complex world of high finance understandable and entertaining. Above all, it’s bolstered by an outstanding cast – including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Margot Robbie, and, in roles that will garner Oscar attention, Steve Carell and especially Christian Bale, who alone breaks the mold to play an out-of-character character that steals the show.
The film depicts various investors who saw the 2008 economic meltdown coming, and it attempts to explain why the financial crisis, which led to banks defaulting and a massive taxpayer bailout, hit in the first place.
Staying on the positive, “The Big Short” at least touches on many of the main issues that fueled the near collapse of Wall Street, including a blistering depiction of both stupidity and greed, while also noting that government watchdogs responsible for safeguarding against illegal activity were asleep at the wheel.
At the moral climax of the story, one of the main characters even gives audiences a powerful homily on what happens to a society when it abandons moral principle: “For 15,000 years we lived in a world where we knew fraud and short-sighted thought doesn’t pay out in the end. Where did we go wrong?”
Yet there’s a major element of the true story completely and conveniently missing: namely, that socialist ideas insisting every American has a right to a job, a car, health care – and in this specific case, home ownership – spurred our progressive elected officials (including many Republicans and even President Bush) to change the regulations that stopped many banks from investing in sub-prime mortgages in the first place. In fact, so determined were the progressives in office to make sure everyone owned a home, they demanded banks extend wildly foolish mortgages to people who were obviously going to default.
And yes, from there, once the guardrails of legislation, mathematics, responsibility to investors and common sense were gutted by progressive politicians, the greed of banks and investors ran hog wild just as the film depicts.
Only the film doesn’t try to tell a balanced story. Instead, it devolves into a steady stream of Occupy Wall Street epithets only Bernie Sanders would love:
- “Banks have screwed us.”
- “Corporate doesn’t care.”
- “Either banks are clueless or crooks.”
- “We’re in a completely fraudulent system.”
- “I’m a parasite, but society values me more… I’ll tell you how much I’m worth and compare it to how much you’re worth.”
- “These people are crooks.”
- “This level of criminality is unprecedented, even on Wall Street.”
- “The a–holes at the big banks.”
- “I made a lot of money. I can feel you judging me. It’s palpable. But, hey, I never said I was the hero of this story.”
- “They knew the taxpayers would bail them out. They weren’t being stupid; they were crooks.”
- “This is the end of capitalism.”
Dozens of other symbols, shots and scenes of opulence throughout the film are furthermore designed to demonize investors and rub the audience’s face in the obscene wealth of those who “screwed” them. The optics in this movie are obvious: You’re supposed to hate rich people.
The movie also makes the classic, progressive error of assuming more government – instead of a more responsible government and a more ethical society – is the answer to the problem.
For example, when explaining how things went bad in the first place, the film states mortgage investments worked when governed by government, “but these modern ones are different: They’re private,” as though the word “private” were some sort of profanity instead of one of the key values of the Founding Fathers.
And even when the film does depict a federal regulator touching on the government’s failure in the mortgage crisis, the character blames it on not enough government: “Since we got our budget cut, we don’t investigate much.”
Finally, the movie even helps Sanders out by mirroring his wildly inaccurate potshots at Republicans, with a sneering set of comments about how people would later “blame immigrants and poor people even teachers” for the economic meltdown.
I was reporting for WND at the time of the mortgage meltdown. I listen to conservative radio hosts, hang out with dozens of Republicans and I’ve met and interviewed and reported on almost all of the people currently running for the GOP nomination. Nobody blames “immigrants and poor people and teachers” for the 2008 collapse. Only in Bernie’s dreams do conservatives – who have plenty of other beefs with immigration’s effects on the economy – blame the mortgage crisis on poor people.
But then again, that’s what “The Big Short” is: Bernie Sanders’ dream movie.
- “The Big Short,” rated R, contains over 180 obscenities and profanities, most of them hard, and the vast majority of them completely unneeded. I know these weren’t angels talking, but it’s detrimental and simply adolescent to include so many obscenities in a script.
- The film also contains completely unnecessary sexuality and nudity, including a conversation with a topless woman, multiple scenes with strippers and a man talking at length about an inflammation in his scrotum.
- The film contains no significant violence, but does reference a suicide and has some scenes where people act out in anger.
- “The Big Short” contains no overt occult reference and only a couple of religious references, including the story of a boy who got in trouble with his rabbi because he was trying to find inconsistencies in “the Word of God” and a brief mention of how corruption had entered many areas of life, including “religion.”