By Jess Goulart
Photo by Emmanuel Huybrechts.
On Feb 28, 2014, LA writer and director Nicole Donadio posted a short video to YouTube. Just two months later it’s garnered nearly 400,000 views and is featured on young media outlets such as Jezebel, Slate, and The Huffington Post. What video could start such a tidal wave of reaction?
It’s called “The Women of Wall Street”.
A parody trailer of The Wolf of Wall Street, the clip runs two minutes long and is a scene-for-scene copy of the movie’s original trailer–except that it features women instead of men. Women in power positions, women celebrating with strippers and champagne, women taping money to a man’s naked body, etc.
Check out the video below.
While Donadio produced other trailers, “The Women of Wall Street” is her most popular, amounting nearly seven hundred comments so far. The community response shocked and amazed her. It’s clear that thousands have strong reactions to footage like this, and it made her consider the reality of women’s rights.
“Some of the comments on YouTube are pretty intense, and a lot of them are against women,” Donadio tells BTR. “For example, ‘women get back in the kitchen,’ ‘women can’t be in power positions like this,’ ‘this is way too unrealistic.’ I had no idea that this 1950s way of thinking is still very relevant and exists. It’s sad. And scary.”
WoWS is controversial for its overt misogyny, depicting abuse and mistreatment of women, but it’s not just the male leads that set sexist examples. Unlike American Hustle–the year’s other Oscar nominated financial drama–the female characters in WoWS are criticized for being poor role models who defer pathetically to the men around them.
Though some might think the content is exaggerated for cinematic effect, the man on whom the movie is based, Jordan Belfort, admits that it’s a close approximation of reality.
“The drug use and the stuff with the hookers and the sales assistants and the sex in the office… that stuff is really, really accurate,” Belfort told The Hollywood Reporter. “In some respects, my life was even worse than that. Although I’d say I did more quaaludes than cocaine.”
Donadio says Belfort’s account makes sense.
“I have a brother who is on Wall Street in New York. He saw the movie opening night and when the Wolf would hit his wife or do drugs all the guys in the theater were celebrating. They were like ‘yeah that’s right hit her, yeah there’re your drugs.’ That’s disturbing, because it demonstrates that that behavior is still around.”
Wall Street has always been male dominated. CNN reported that in the nation’s largest 29 banks there are 129 top-paid individuals, and only 11 of them are women. Even more distressing, Harvard labor economist Claudia Goldin estimated women in finance earn on average 66 percent less than their male counterparts, marking the greatest disparity of any industry.
There are exceptions to this standard, of course. Sallie Krawcheck is one example of a woman who earned herself one of the top industry positions. She told Fast Company that being female and trying to climb meant not making many friends, since “research shows people are less likely to want to work for women.”
Throughout the various mentors that aided Krawcheck along the way, not a single one of them was female. Now, helping other women is top on her priority list.
Donadio created her parody on a whim after talking to friends about what women on Wall Street might actually look like. She says there was no political agenda for her at first, as she didn’t know about the financial sector’s pay discrepancies or the cutthroat environment.
After releasing her video, the consequent public response and stories like that of her brother’s encouraged her to do research on the topic. Though Donadio still doesn’t identify as a feminist per se, she’s grown much more aware of women’s rights and hopes others will become so as well.
“The comments, both positive and negative, were eye opening. The positive ones were nice, I received a lot of emails from women and women film makers around the world that have said that it really inspired them and it was great to see someone switching the norm and showing women in different roles. They’d like to see more”
Donadio hopes to oblige.