"We are such stuff as dreams are made on." Shakespeare, The Tempest

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Big Short and Concussion: A System on Sterroids

Watched one after the other or, more realistically, a day or two apart, "The Big Short" and "Concussion" provide an excellent picture of American business and society. As much as the revelations in the films are shocking, I'm more shocked that the American people just take things as they are. "Oh, that's just the way things go in the world," they might say as if this serves as a defense. In other words, we will doubtless get "same old, same old," at the ballot box in November. The disjunction between people's reaction to the substance of the films and the way the people vote is nothing short of astonishing to me. How can people be so shocked at Wall Street and the NFL, and yet continue to vote for the same epigones? We continue to use the same big banks and watch football as if the films were somehow really fictional. I suppose we get what we deserve. 

The key to understanding both films is actually made transparent in another film of the same sort. If you see "Spotlight," pay attention to the chief editor's point that the system, including all the parts..meaning people doing their jobs...was at fault...not just Cardinal Law. Hence, in "The Big Short" and "Concussion," we can reasonably extend the culprits even to the business ethics scholars who said nothing at the societal level about the rating agencies and the conflicts of interests in the big banks, as well as about the NFL. When you have a system wherein everyone is just doing his or her job, and yet is an accomplice, assigning blame to a particular part becomes artificial. It is the system itself--of business, government, and society--that is deeply flawed and thus in need of fundamental change.