The Pursuit Of Happyness

The London Paper  –  15 Jan 2007

I think we’ve got an early favourite for the prize for the most absurd film of 2007. Will Smith’s movie ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ (sic) opened at cinemas last week and has a premise so preposterous that it may win this esteemed prize for this decade, nay century. This film is apparently based on the true story of some yank who decided that the way to gain the respect of his son and achieve happiness was to become a stock broker! My God, did he not consider more plausible alternatives like joining the Foreign Legion or becoming a crack whore?

I have to admit that in time-honoured fashion I haven’t actually watched this film. Firstly, because I have more amusing things to do than see this schmaltzy hokum – for example, watching the paint dry in my newly refurbished kitchen or rubbing a cheese grater vigorously on my genitals. Secondly, as an actual stock broker I ain’t got the time for this kind of nonsense. In fact, I ain’t got much time at all and herein lies one of the main problems with this steaming pile of crap. In the movie trailer you see Big Willy promising himself that unlike him his ‘children were gonna know who their father was’. Well, that would presuppose that you actually get to see the little blighters – which ain’t gonna happen as an intern at some appalling cut-throat investment bank. The number of colleagues I’ve seen complaining about how their kids hardly know them due to their long hours is legion, as are the number who attribute their divorces to their excessive “work commitments”.

The second absurd premise is that being a stockbroker is likely to result in happiness. The US of A has always amused me as being the only nation I know sufficiently hedonistic that it has written in its constitution that “the pursuit of Happiness” is an “unalienable right” of its citizens. If the UK actually had a written constitution I imagine our grim mindset would make it our “unalienable right” to be to “sit around complaining about the endless drudgery that our protestant work ethic has imbued our society with” (though that may be a bit long-winded). Anyway, a recent study by Alden Cass (the “Frasier Crane of Wall St”) has shown that US stockbrokers may not be achieving their constitutional right. Apparently brokers are “four times more likely to be clinically depressed than the average male” and those “who were the most depressed made the most money”. Another study of Florida brokers found that they coped with pressure “by turning to sex, masturbation, alcohol and drugs” – all of them arguably fine pursuits in the right context. My decade-long experience of this horrific job is that its meaninglessness, machismo culture and insecurity are the root causes of brokers’ weltschmertz.

So, if you want to be able to say to your grand children I was there when the most ridiculous film of all time was released then go and see Will’s film. If, however, you want a remote chance of enjoying yourself do pretty much anything else – apart from applying to be a stockbroker, of course.

I think we’ve got an early favourite for the prize for the most absurd film of 2007. Will Smith’s movie ‘The pursuit of happyness’ (sic) opened at cinemas last week and has a premise so preposterous that it may win this esteemed prize for this decade, nay century. This film is apparently based on the true story of some yank who decided that the way to gain the respect of his son and achieve happiness was to become a stock broker! My God, did he not consider more plausible alternatives like joining the Foreign Legion or becoming a crack whore? I have to admit that in time-honoured fashion I haven’t actually watched this film. Firstly, because I have more amusing things to do than see this schmaltzy hokum – for example, watching the paint dry in my newly refurbished kitchen or rubbing a cheese grater vigorously on my genitals. Secondly, as an actual stock broker I ain’t got the time for this kind of nonsense. In fact, I ain’t got much time at all and herein lies one of the main problems with this steaming pile of crap. In the movie trailer you see Big Willy promising himself that unlike him his ‘children were gonna know who their father was’. Well, that would presuppose that you actually get to see the little blighters – which ain’t gonna happen as an intern at some appalling cut-throat investment bank. The number of colleagues I’ve seen complaining about how their kids hardly know them due to their long hours is legion, as are the number who attribute their divorces to their excessive “work commitments”. The second absurd premise is that being a stockbroker is likely to result in happiness. The US of A has always amused me as being the only nation I know sufficiently hedonistic that it has written in its constitution that “the pursuit of Happiness” is an “unalienable right” of its citizens. If the UK actually had a written constitution I imagine our grim mindset would make it our “unalienable right” to be to “sit around complaining about the endless drudgery that our protestant work ethic has imbued our society with” (though that may be a bit long-winded). Anyway, a recent study by Alden Cass (the “Frasier Crane of Wall St”) has shown that US stockbrokers may not be achieving their constitutional right. Apparently brokers are “four times more likely to be clinically depressed than the average male” and those “who were the most depressed made the most money”. Another study of Florida brokers found that they coped with pressure “by turning to sex, masturbation, alcohol and drugs” – all of them arguably fine pursuits in the right context. My decade-long experience of this horrific job is that its meaninglessness, machismo culture and insecurity are the root causes of brokers’ weltschmertz. So, if you want to be able to say to your grand children I was there when the most ridiculous film of all time was released then go and see Will’s film. If, however, you want a remote chance of enjoying yourself do pretty much anything else – apart from applying to be a stockbroker, of course.

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