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Dumb Money

Claire Folger/Columbia Pictures
Pete Davidson casted as Kevin Gill, sitting with Paul Dano casted as Keith Gill

In financial history, few stories have captivated the world quite like the 2021 GameStop saga. This is showcased in the new film Dumb Money, which was released on September 15th. The 2021 Gamestop frenzy was a battle of intelligence and wealth that pitted retail investors against Wall Street titans, which shook the foundations of traditional finance. 

The heart of this movie is based on a Reddit community called WallStreetBets, where individual investors huddled to discuss stock tips, strategies, and the occasional meme. The self-titled “degenerates” were not typical traders; they were passionate, often rude, and united by a common goal: to take on the big hedge funds and win (IMDb).

The spark that began the GameStop frenzy was the realization that hedge funds had greatly shorted the company’s stock. Short-selling is a strategy where investors bet that a stock’s price will decline. In GameStop’s case, some hedge funds had taken massive short positions, effectively betting against the company’s success.

The WallStreetBets’ community saw an opportunity. They began buying GameStop shares in huge amounts, driving up the stock price to new heights. It was a classic short squeeze, where those betting against the stock found themselves in a painful, expensive scenario as the price surged. Investors bet against the stock, but instead, it rose tremendously. This sudden rally gave birth to the term “Dumb Money.” 

Critics argued that retail investors were blindly pouring their money into GameStop with no understanding of the fundamentals of the business. The WallStreetBets community, however, replied that they were exposing the flaws in a system that had allowed hedge funds to manipulate markets for years. The movie, directed by Craig Gillespie, and featuring stars like Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, and Vincent D’Onforio, does a great job demonstrating the backlash that was received in a funny and crowd-pleasing manner. Ramapo and Indian Hills teacher Mr. Tuohy states, “ Paul Dano and Pete Davidson are really funny guys and I like what they do, so I’m sure you can learn a lot from this movie, but also have a good laugh.”

It wasn’t only about generating money in the GameStop saga; it was about demanding openness, questioning the status quo, and making influential financial institutions accountable. It had to do with the equalization of finance and the idea that small-time investors should have a voice.

As GameStop’s stock price soared to new heights, mainstream media coverage increased. Celebrities like Elon Musk and Mark Cuban tweeted their support, adding more fuel to the fire. The world watched as the Dumb Money movement unfolded with billions of dollars on the line (Business Insider).

The GameStop saga will be remembered as a major turning point in the history of financial markets. It exposed the power of social media and online communities to move markets and challenge people’s conventional way of thinking. It raised important questions on market manipulation, short-selling practices, and the role of retail investors in a world dominated by institutions.

The reviews of the movie are quite scattered, but overall the ratings are satisfactory. Ramapo Senior Chris Werkley shared, “I haven’t watched the movie yet, but I’m super excited to check it out. I’ve heard and read a little about the Gamestop situation from quarantine, so I’m curious to learn more.” Many have critiqued how the movie does a vague job explaining how exactly the stocks work, as many viewers are unaware of the details on this situation. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the execution of the movie was done quite well and clearly for a situation that occurred so recently.

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