American Consequences - April 2021

belief that they have actually usurped someone – that it’s something the old- timers just don’t get. The true advantage, he believes, lies with the older generation. “Older investors who have had longer-term experience have had the chance to see the fall of bubbles,” he says. They’ve seen enough that they know where the horizon is. “A very young investor, if this is the first bubble period that they’ve experienced, they see boundless opportunity – and the downside feels more theoretical.” In reality, the downside, as life has a way of teaching us, is never theoretical. But there’s less of a market for a movie with that sentiment as its tagline. And don’t take it from me: This story wants to sell. There are close to a dozen movies, now in various stages of development, depicting the GameStop squeeze and the Redditors whose merry mischief made it happen. Some, one of which features Indiana’s own Shawn Daumer, will be documentaries. But they’re mostly dramatic features – likely to play up the personal lives of their based-on-a-true-story subjects. Which makes sense, as cinema realité does not reliably serve a tale that takes place between basement-dwelling guys (and they’re mostly, but not all, guys) parked in front of screens. In what was probably his biggest trade to date, in an existential sense anyway, the Redditor who founded WallStreetBets sold his life rights to a Hollywood production company in early February. In soft enough focus, it’s a made-for- Hollywood story about the brief but glorious triumph of the lovable underdogs. Comparisons to comedies with cartoonish elitist villains like Caddyshack and Trading

Places capture the tone within the forum. But I imagine how the public will remember GameStop and its underdog heroes is somewhere closer to a Frank Capra treatment... or the epic tale of Notre Dame football hero Rudy – Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy! – Ruettiger, who scraped his way onto the team he’d grown up idolizing as a son of the working-class Midwest. This is because the spirit of the story vastly outshines the underlying achievement, which in Rudy’s case was an athletic career consisting of one single sack against Georgia Tech. (The analogy pretty much peters out at that point, although Ruettiger was indicted on charges related to an alleged pump-and-dump scheme in 2011...) But it’s also because people who know next to nothing about football, like me, love Rudy – the man, the myth, the movie starring Sean Astin. Likewise, those who know relatively little about market manipulation, for instance, nevertheless love the GameStop saga. That’s not to say that genuine football fans don’t love Rudy – his teammates did carry him off the field chanting his name, after all – or that career traders and analysts haven’t gotten a kick, and in some cases a profit, out of the GameStop squeeze. It’s just that the story itself is more universally appealing than it is... well... true. Alice Lloyd is a writer and reporter in Washington, D.C., covering culture, politics, and the weirdness in between. Her work has been featured in the New York Times , the Washington Post , the Boston Globe , and the Weekly Standard .

American Consequences


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