I’m on record as being pretty excited for Tower Heist, and for a movie that considers the non-extremely wealthy of Bernie Madoff’s fraud. And it seems like Bernie Madoff revenge fantasies or victim stories are everywhere this fall. Ponzi schemes play a role in 2 Broke Girls and Apartment 23. A Bernie Madoff grotesque is one of the assassination targets in Colombiana
But the obsession with Madoff isn’t just a bad thing because it’s a derivative trope. If pop culture makes him the sole scapegoat for the financial crisis, our television shows and movies will be dodging a complicated but important issue. I understand why Madoff’s convenient. If he’s to blame for people losing their trust funds and job opportunities, shows can give us a slightly shrunken New York, a recessionista version, as it will, without blaming all those cute investment bankers who are potential love interests for our heroines. But that’s a dodge. Not every story should be a complete chronicle of the entire financial crisis, but shows set in New York or with interests in our reshaped economy should be clear that you didn’t have to be criminal to cause an incredible amount of damage even if they’re not incredibly specific about the mechanisms of the damage.