When I was in eighth grade, there was a large poster hanging on one of the walls with the image of Michael Douglas on it and a long speech about greed. I had no idea what it was or why his face was on it but it was an interesting speech, albeit one that went against everything we were taught in school. The speech taught that greed was good and important. We were taught in school that greed was bad and that sharing with others was good and important.
I eventually learned that the reason Michael Douglas was on the poster was because he had been in a movie called Wall Street and the speech on the poster was that of his character, Gordon Gekko, who was a Wall Street trader that took advantage of the system and let his greed take over him to make much money at the cost of many people losing theirs. I suppose it must have been a fairly popular movie because there was recently a sequel made in which Michael Douglas reprised the role of Gordon Gekko and he became a mentor figure to a young man played by Shia LaBeouf, who took his role so seriously that he was giving out stock tips on Twitter.
Now Michael Douglas has returned once more only this time he is not playing the role of Gordon Gekko. (As a side note, if your first name is Gordon then you too share years of being asked if you are Gordon like Gordon Gekko!) Michael tells us that even though Gecko was successful, we have to know that he was a fictional character and that in real life what his character did was very wrong. He then encourages us to contact the FBI if we suspect someone of possibly committing a crime.
I feel that this crosses a line into the territory of commercials where a person wearing scrubs tells us that they are not really a doctor, yet they play one on television, and then give us medical advice that we should really be taking only from an actual doctor. Just like that, I feel that the FBI would have done quite well to have found some real former insider traders who have repented, having served their time, and are ready to tell the world that what they actually did was wrong — not just the acts of a character made famous a generation ago.
The sentiment of the commercial is certainly commendable — it follows the NYPD / MTA “If You See Something Say Something” campaign quite well into the white collar community. I only wish that it were coming from someone who had genuinely gotten his or her claws dirty on the blood of the lower class to make a stronger point.