Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Greed Is Good?

Gordon Gekko, fictional Wall Street Power User, dwells on the mantra

"Greed Is Good."

Here's a quote from:


 "Greed is good" was the maxim of Michael Douglas's 1987 film Wall Street. Now, his former wife appears to have taken the lesson to heart.

Diandra Douglas is suing the actor for half of his income from the new sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - though the couple divorced in 2000. The Oliver Stone film is due out in September, with Douglas reprising his role of Gordon Gekko - the self-styled "master of the universe".
--------END QUOTE---------

CNBC ran a poll on Friday July 1 asking if viewers thought greed is good.  It was nearly a split decision, from the way they asked the question.  They didn't specify good for what.

I'm telling you, greed is the writer's best friend! 

It is a perfect, High Concept character motivation.  Nobody, reader or viewer, needs an explanation of what greed feels like, or what it's like to go up against someone fired up with greed.

Now, beyond that, the thematic discussion makes perfect fuel for either a soft-sweet romance or a hot-spice romance, and you can even found a raging action-romance on it.

Greed is a good motive for a protagonist who "comes to his senses" because of love (or a good knock on the you-know-what) and it's a great motive for a villain who gets his comeuppance good and proper.

We discussed the film Toy Story 3 last week, July 13, 2010 on aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com

On http://www.blakesnyder.com/2010/06/25/toy-story-3-beat-sheet/  you can read the analysis of Toy Story 3 and see just how important THEME is to this light-entertainment film that isn't supposed to draw audiences seeking "serious thought."

You should also note this entry on blakesnyder.com
http://www.blakesnyder.com/2010/07/02/kieran-kramer-saves-the-cat-and-so-much-more/ where a NOVEL is analyzed for "beats" --  can you see the trend in Romance there?  Just as I pointed out in my July 13 post noted above.  Theme and Romance and Novels and SCREENPLAYS go together.

Now, plot some stories with greed as the main theme subject.  The word "greed" by itself isn't a theme.  It can be a motif, a character motivation, or almost any other element in a story.  Make it a theme by taking a position on the subject.  "Greed is good" is a great starting point, but move on from there.    

Challenge yourself to a writing exercise.  This is like a pianist doing scales rather than playing an entire piece. 

1) Create a POV character who hates greed (because he/she is riddled with it and rejects Self). 

2) Create a POV character who lauds greed and proves (as Gekko) that greed is the personality trait to foster if you want to get rich or stay rich. 

3) Create a SUPPORTING ROLE character who fights greed in human society.  Generate a POV character from the supporting role (B story character), a POV character that the supporting character can redirect.

4) Create a Villain or simple antagonist who either embraces Greed or eschews it, but does so with way too much force. Explain why he/she's so obsessed. 

5) Create a character whose hidden fear is that his inner greed will overtake him - perhaps he starts out living the severe austerity of a street-begging Monk with a bowl and a robe, no sandals, and suddenly has to command a galactic fortune that's shrinking alarmingly fast.

6) Create a greed-theme based character with your own formula for a character.  Then build a world to display that character's lessons in greed -- such as Wall Street was chosen to display Gekko's philosophy.

Remember all the TV Series you've seen using Confidence Men (White Collar rules the roost at the moment) as lead characters. In the grifter's world, the handle they look for in a Mark is Greed. 

If you don't have greed activated in your character, if your greed doesn't rule you, no grifter can possibly get you to do anything against your best interests - and the grifters good at their trade, the ones who might succeed, won't even try you.  There are plenty of "Marks" in the world who wear their greed on their sleeves.  You don't have to be one of them.  That's a theme.  Work it every which way. 

The reason these exercises are relevant to success in the story marketplace today is the same reason CNBC and film makers are shouting about this film "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." 

We as a society will be, possibly for the next 20 years, debating how to "govern greed." 

I discussed the 20-year fiction-taste trend cycles here:

and here

It's Pluto transiting Capricorn.  Capricorn is the natural 10th House of Vocation and Government and is ruled by Saturn, Restriction and Discipline.

The financial meltdown of 2008-9 coincided with Pluto making stations on the USA Natal chart's 8th House (other people's money, inheritance) -- and for a Nation, 8th House is all about taxes.  Pluto is all about the hidden world beneath the world, and the nuclear magnitude power that seethes down there.  Pluto rules the Natural 8th House (Scorpio) just as Saturn rules the Natural 10th House (Capricorn). 

Greed is a natural desire magnified beyond all limits.

We have a natural awareness of the possessions of others (8th House), and the Values of Others (also 8th House).  The 8th House is naturally opposed to the 2nd House, our personal Money, Possessions, and Values.  So we're always comparing what we have to what others have.

The problem comes from coveting what others have.  When that natural tendency to compare gets magnified, it becomes a desire FOR what others have, not just curiosity.  Magnify that and you get Greed. 

Pluto's main effect is just exactly that, magnifying.  Pluto releases that subterranean nuclear level (super-volcano magnitude) power into the channel of a natural, normal, ordinarily good, human tendency of being aware of what's around us. 

So it's entirely possible we may see the whole USA society confronting a government (Saturn) exploding with unbridled (Pluto unbridles) greed for control (Saturn) especially of "other people's money" (8th House).

Or it might not go that way.  Don't let your imagination fail here.


People will be on all sides of this issue, subliminally worried about it and confused because the "Conservatives" who are deepest into Christianity pound the table about Greed as a Sin, while the rest of our world keeps trying to de-demonize sins in general, pounding the table about acceptance of what used to be taboo because it's based on primitive superstitious religion. 

That's a CONFLICT, in case you didn't notice. 

And so there's a building audience that will be grabbed by fiction that discusses all sides without taking a side. It's a puzzle everyone will be working on solving.  

Grab your piece of this action with all the greed you can muster.

But once you have done that, stuff that greed back into the lock-box that your emotional anti-virus software keeps for you. 

When doing business as a writer, keep your greed completely out of the transaction.  Agents and Editors will blacklist you if you don't.  They won't deal with someone who wants more than they're worth.

But if you don't know exactly what your product is worth, you will get taken to the cleaners.  (you know I love cliches for a reason).

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. Will note 'greed' down as something to explore when contemplating the next story / novel. Thanks for the great info!