The 1987 Stock Market Crash and the New Proprietary of Tom Wolfe and Oliver Stone
This chapter explores how finance began to stand in for “the economy” through the journalistic and realistic representation of the 1987 stock market crash. It is centered on Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities and Oliver Stone’s film Wall Street, both released around the time of the crash and both transformed into cultural objects that, by virtue of their timing, their channels of distribution, and their announcement of a radical new realism, claimed a narrative monopoly on representing an emergent financial era. After the crash producers and critics of culture began to ask: What is a financial period, what is a financial text and, most crucially, what is a financial aesthetic? The Bonfire of the Vanities and Wall Street were central to offering an answer by presenting a form of “capitalist realism” that recorded how a new financial class was beginning to identify itself and its economic object.
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