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Does The Wolf of Wall Street Glorify Crime?

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall StreetPhotograph by Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection

Christina McDowell makes a strong argument that the answer is yes. Her impassioned, if not always grammatically precise cri-de-coeur in LA Weekly about The Wolf of Wall Street and her father’s role in the real-life crime behind it has prompted a spirited debate about the film’s merits and message.

McDowell’s father was a Washington securities lawyer named Thomas Prousalis who pled guilty to engaging in penny stock fraud in the 1990s. The star witness set to testify against him was none other than Jordan Belfort, the author of the memoir on which the film is based who pled guilty to securities fraud and served as a government witness in more than two dozen cases. Because Prousalis switched his plea from not guilty to guilty halfway through his trial, Belfort didn’t actually take the stand against him.