This is an ethical review of the film Wall Street (Stone and Weiser). It examines ethical dilemmas Bud Fox faced and what made him vulnerable to crossing the ethical line, as well as what factors led to Fox's attempt to repair the ethical breach. It examines Gordon Gecko's thoughts on a person's vulnerability to making an ethical breach and how this related to Bud Fox. Finally, it will take a look at factors in the film that relate to the Enron and WorldCom cases.
The film "Wall Street" is about Bud Fox, an ambitious rookie stockbroker and Gordon Gekko, an aggressive and ruthless Wall Street power player. Bud Fox spends a lot of time and effort trying to become part of Gordon Gekko's inner circle. Once he succeeds in doing so, Bud's life moves into the fast lane, a fancy apartment, money, power and a hot new girlfriend. As time goes by, Gekko makes more and more unethical and illegal demands with the final straw being the takeover and dismantling of Bluestar Airlines where Bud's father works. As should happen in all good movies, Bud Fox then comes up with a plan to make things right.
Before we can determine the ethical dilemmas Bud faced we need to understand what makes an ethical dilemma. Ethical dilemmas happen because of a conflict between the rightness or wrongness of the actions and the goodness or badness of the consequences of the actions. An ethical dilemma occurs when it appears a wrong action will produce a perceived good end, or when a good action will produce a wrong end. There is an outcome that we really think we want or don't want. Bud Fox was confronted with a number of ethical dilemmas throughout the movie.
Bud desperately wanted to be part of Gekko's inner circle, but what he had to do was against the principles, or values he grew up with and believed in. He wanted the success that Gekko offered, but he also knew that using inside information that he had obtained from his father about Bluestar airlines was both illegal and wrong.
Cited: Donaldson, Thomas, Patricia H. Werhane, and Margaret Cording. Ethical Issues in Business. 7th ed. Upper Saddle Rivery: Pearson Education, Inc, 2002.
Stone, Oliver, and Stanley Weiser. "Wall Street." Video Recording. 1987.
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