If you haven’t seen The Wolf of Wall Street yet, shame on you, because this movie is cinematic gold. As usual, Leo DiCaprio does not disappoint (hang in there for that Oscar, Leo, it has to be be coming soon) and Jonah Hill is surprisingly the perfect side-kick for him. Besides the stellar cast, the insane content of the film is reason enough alone to have college students everywhere in awe. No wonder when you consider just how much we have in common with the antagonist of the story, Jordan Belfort and his employees at Stratton Oakmont. But if you haven’t seen the movie yet, check out the trailer. That’s all it takes to get a sense of what we’re talking about here.
1. Excessive drug and alcohol abuse
Admittedly, most of us hadn’t heard of quaaludes, or “ludes,” before seeing this movie, but within a matter of days of the films release college students everywhere were on the prowl for them. I can’t decide if it’s sad or hysterical that after watching Leo jump right to the “cerebral palsy” phase of his high, college students nation-wide started talking about Lemmon 714’s like they were the Beyoncé of the drug world (but I’m leaning towards it being hilarious). Either way, no demographic can match the partying ways of the head honchos of Stratton Oakmont quite like college kids can.
2. Promiscuous sex life
“Monogamy” doesn’t quite seem to be in the vocabulary of any of the male characters in this film. Jordan often leaves his (smokin’ hot) wife Naomi at home while he shamelessly “enjoys the company” of other women (usually prostitutes). At no other time in a young adult’s life is the concept of monogamy more foreign than in college. Perhaps prostitution isn’t quite as rampant as in the film, but the general promiscuous sex life that Belfort leads is reminiscent of a college student without a care or worry in the world.
3. Cult mentality
True for basically any college campus. When Jordan addresses his company of Stratton Oakmont, his employees go wild for him, treating him like some sort of god. Then there’s that kind of creepy, kind of funny chant and chest pounding ritual they do. Remind you of anything? Ask any college student which school is the best and nine times out of ten they’ll answer with their own school, followed with some obnoxious ritualistic school chant or cheer. This one is especially true if you attend a college with a strong greek life, but more on that later.
4. The police always ruin all the fun
Don’t you just hate it when you’re trying to shoot an infomercial on your private helicopter and the cops just barge into the shot and slap cuffs on you? Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes down in college, but either way, the man is always trying to get us down. What Jordan went through in this scene is probably exactly how we feel when a perfectly good party filled with copious amounts of alcohol and excessively loud music gets busted.
5. An era of bad decisions
In the immortal words of Jordan Belfort, “Was all of this legal? Absolutely not.” But Jordan never let a little thing like legality stop him and neither do most college students.
6. Reckless spending
Most college students probably don’t have the funds to use hundred dollar bills for shooting practice like Belfort does, but that certainly doesn’t stop them from spending whatever money they do have as if it grows on trees. “Do I need to buy $300 worth of books for the semester? Or do I need to go out and rack up a $300 bar tab?” Come on. No brainer. Booze over books any day.
7. Parents are always on your back
If I had a dollar for every time my parents have berated me about using the “emergencies only” credit card for “emergency formal dress shopping” and “emergency drunk food at 3 in the morning,” I’d probably have enough money to cover Stratton’s AmEx bill myself. Maybe then Mad Max might get off Jordan’s case and let his son get a little loose with the company card every once in a while without giving himself a heart attack.
8. Desperation for money
Ohhhkay, so you decided to blow the last of your cash on partying. No regrets, but that means things could get a little dicey when you realize that you actually do need all those textbooks you neglected to buy. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Jordan was so desperate to hold on to his millions that he broke several international laws and almost killed his wife and friends by forcing them to sail through dangerous seas in the process. What do college students do in times of crisis? Basically anything they can think of if it means cold hard cash.
9. Stratton Oakmont offices vs. a fraternity house
Just imagine: If Wall Street was Greek Row on your school’s campus, then the offices of Stratton Oakmont would definitely be whatever your closest equivalent to the Animal House fraternity is. Flying midgets, sex in the conference rooms, drug-fueled parties, and the release of pent-up testosterone, the recipe for the typical wild frat party. Seriously, a low level employee’s live gold fish is swallowed by Jonah Hill’s character in one scene, which is ridiculous, but I’ve seen the same interaction go down between a pledge and his pledge master at a bid day party. If the similarities got any more numerous, Belfort might consider changing Stratton Oakmont’s name to Sigma Omega.
10. Enough is never enough
I’m sure we all remember the pivotal scene where Jordan had the chance to walk away from the business and basically get off scot-free. But of course, in true J.B. form, he decided last minute that he’d rather take his chances with the law. Kind of like that one party we’ve all been to that was just so clearly about to be busted, but you were having way too much fun to care. Leaving a party like that at 10 p.m. just ain’t cool. No one knows that better than the Wolf of Wall Street and every college kid in the country.
With all of the pomp and flash presented in this blockbuster hit, it’s clear to see why our demographic is so readily drawn to it. After all, who is Jordan Belfort if not simply an overgrown college kid, possessing all the immaturity and lack of discretion of a typical 21-year-old? He is Peter Pan, refusing to grow up and face the real world as an adult, instead choosing to live life as if there are no consequences. While such a character is undeniably relatable to college students, who are in the midst of what promises to be the “craziest” years of their lives, it is crucial that this audience recognizes the one essential difference between Jordan Belfort and themselves: No matter how he acts, he is an adult. His family, employees, and friends depend on him. While it’s all well and good for college kids to make these mistakes (always learning from them), it is well past time for Belfort to grow up and respect his responsibilities. And so, instead of viewing Jordan Belfort as a figure to aspire to, let his character flaws serve as a warning. Enjoy the crazy years while they last, but as you transition from college to real adulthood, leave your immaturity and irresponsible tendencies in the past.
Bridget Runge was born in Baltimore and is a junior at Ole Miss, where she is studying Journalism and Legal Studies. Her hobbies include Netflix, sarcasm, and trying to convince her classmates in Mississippi that the great state of Maryland is, in fact, south of the Mason-Dixon line. Follow her on twitter at @bridgetrunge and check out other articles and videos from her at barunge.tumblr.com.
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