In Wall Street, Barbara Kruger’s Sartrian pun, “I Shop Therefore I am” comes to moving pictures.
The best and worst of conspicuous cosumption are given unified narrative form in a continuous montage that illustrates corrupt broker Charlie Sheen’s purchase of domestic symbols of success. Beginning with the redecorating of his 1970s era apartment, now complete with faux brick walls covered by faux chipped plaster and embellished with fiberglass, gold leaf-spattered mouldings, staple-gunned into place, the music video pacing reaches a crescendo in the preparation of dinner. This looks more like an exercise to demonstrate ownership of the good life, with its Haagen Daaz-loaded Sub-Zero, under-cabinet lighting, gnocchi maker, Calphalon cookware and Cuisinart, than it is to enjoy any actual food. We are invited both to envy and to sneer at the excess. The scene ends in the bedroom, naturally, with sex not so sublty implying that even what you do guilelessly and naked in the privacy of darkness may be rendered hollow by the emptiness of its purpose. It makes sense for the implicitly approved value of this movie's most memorable line that money might be an aphrodisiac, because as we are told, "greed is good". Here's the kitchen to prove it.