My hubby rented the Great Gatsby to watch since we didn’t want to spend our movie money on it when it was in the theaters. I personally do not like 3 D movies because the headache I get afterwards just isn’t worth the price of admission. While we were watching it today in the comfort of our living room with Jack taking turns using each one of us as his personal lounge chair, I still got what the director was communicating with his 3D technology, the over the top luxury, the decadence, the booziness, the debauchery and the perils of unearned wealth and unmitigated greed, and I got to watch it without a headache.
I know that I read the book in high school, I had never seen the movies until today. I see why the producers and the director felt inspired to make the movie present day because even now it is so apropos, our times mirror the decadent 1920’s with the serious income inequality that is becoming more pronounced in the States each year.
One scene really struck me. It is towards the end, the tiny group made up of Gatsby, Nick, Daisy, her husband Tom and their friend Jordan, are at the Plaza Hotel in a suite drinking and perspiring in the sheltering heat of the New York City summer. Tensions are running high between Tom and Gatsby, both want to either put their stamp on Daisy or keep their hold on her. By this point we know that Jay Gatsby is a self-invented man, what the monied people in the story fail to realize is that though he might not have come about his fortune legitimately in their sensibilities, his ways aren’t that different in the end, the financial speculation is just as iffy and just as larcenous as what Gatsby was doing in his businesses. What made me feel so very strongly for Gatsby is Tom’s insistence to everyone in the room especially Gatsby himself, that they were born better than Gatsby, Tom earlier was spouting all philosophically to Daisy, Nick and Jordan how the African/American was naturally inferior and it was scientifically proven because their skulls were different. Tom’s whole argument was that he by birth into the wealthy class was morally superior to Gatsby, because of Gatsby’s inferior birth stock. Tom is saying this with a straight face despite the fact that everyone in that room knows that he had cheated on Daisy since day one. He is only angry at Daisy because how dare she think to leave him for another man, and especially forget it if that man comes from nowhere as does Gatsby.
While Tom was measuring his moral superiority against Gatsby’s, I couldn’t help by being appalled at his arrogance, his inability to see his hypocrisy and his delusional ideas that he was biologically imbued with the right to his wealth and the poor people were naturally less deserving of the comforts that he could afford due to his status. I reminds me of how the monarchy of old, used religion to grant them their rule as a God given right and the legitimacy it needed to rule the peasantry.
I’m glad that we watched it, I remember why it is considered an important piece of literature, it still has relevance, unfortunately for the poorer people and perhaps for the over the top wealthy as well, because you get a first hand picture of how easily you become unhappy when you have too much, many things lose their meaning in the end and all you have left is yourself and your dollars. It also struck me at one point that perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald was really saying that it takes a much stronger character to go through life poor and that it is the weak who need to be wealthy, they don’t have the stamina to truly live a life with honest work, simple truths and simple needs.