Finally understanding the 2008 recession thanks to “The Big Short”

*Spoilers within this article*

Making the 2008 financial crisis much easier to understand for a younger audience, “The Big Short,” based on the novel by Michael Lewis, dives deep into the pre-recession mind-set of bankers on Wall Street. It exposes the pompous and arrogant attitudes as well as the reckless behavior of these people as they ripped off unsuspecting Americans which resulted in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The opening of the movie and the overall excess it seemed some of the characters in the movie lived in, I expected it to be a toned down version of “The Wolf of Wallstreet.” While that is one of my favorite Leonardo DiCaprio characters and subsequently one of my favorite movies, I was pleasantly surprised that this turned out to be the complete opposite.

The movies draw several parallels to each other despite their core differences. While the main characters of Wallstreet – mainly DiCaprio – began the film as a hardworking average American citizen and morphed into these greedy, disgusting and ape-like money hungry monsters, the characters of Big Short either remained the same “crusading for the rights of the average joe” men or had changes of heart that made them better, nicer people in the end. Steve Carell’s character Mark Baum is an excellent example of that. He grapples with the fact that he wasn’t able to save his brother from committing suicide because he was so wrapped up in his job and his financial life. He says at one point in the film “I offered him money. That was what I said to him. I offered him fucking money.”

I was in fifth grade when the housing market tanked and while I remember seeing everything happening on TV (2008 was when my obsession with Good Morning America began), I couldn’t fully comprehend what everything meant. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t as big a deal as everyone made it seem. I saw the numbers but didn’t understand and even still, I don’t understand the details, but in large part because of this movie I can better understand how the recession happened and become frustrated myself that more wasn’t done to prevent the bubble from bursting.

Back to talking about the movie itself. At various points throughout the movie, the actors face the camera and explain that things didn’t happen exactly how the movie makes it seem. I also really enjoyed the cameos by Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain and Margot Robbie who took time out of what they were doing in the movie to explain what certain words meant, which really helped me out because otherwise every other word was complete nonsense to me. There were moments to fit every person’s mood in the movie, times when the whole theater laughed, wanted to shed a tear, got pissed off beyond belief or just sat in shock of what was transpiring. Overall, it was a really great movie with actors who were really into their characters and who helped me better understand what happened eight years ago not only to the USA, but to the rest of the world as well.

Needless to say, I can understand why this movie was Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale), Directing, Film Editing and Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

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