This 2016 thriller film directed by Jodie Foster, and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts highlights one very important aspect about money that is rarely talked about.
Before you continue reading, you should know that this article includes details about the plot of Money Monster. It will still be worth the watch, though, as it is a great movie, and I will try my utmost best to keep spoilers to a minimum.
Lee Gates (played by George Clooney) is a confident, somewhat ostentatious TV show host who advises his audience about business and the workings of Wall Street. He enthusiastically reports on the latest stock market news and shouts out endorsements and trading tips.
Kyle Budwell (played by Jack O’Connell) takes the loudmouth TV host and his crew hostage on live TV, demanding answers after he lost a substantial amount of money when he invested in a company endorsed by Lee on his show.
The movie attempts to portray a “stick-it-to-the-1%” type of message, showcasing how easy it is for large corporations to steal from the man on the street. The CEO of the company responsible for the financial loss suffered by “everyday”, Kyle, first disappears, and then spins a web of jargon-filled lies in an attempt to hide the greed responsible for thousands losing their savings.
Big business predominantly cares about money, not people, and “experts” often (and sometimes purposefully) struggle to tell the truth. This we already know.
The most important message of this movie – a message that should no longer be ignored – is the extreme measures taken by the disgruntled Kyle. In one scene Clooney’s character asks his captor how much money he lost. When Kyle reveals that he lost $60 000 in the investment, Lee seems surprised that he is forced into wearing a bomb vest and threatened with gun, all for a meagre $60 000.
This $60 000 was Kyle’s entire life savings, it was all he had. He has a child on the way and no money.
Money is not just paper and coins, it’s not just some digits on an ATM screen. Money, however shallow it might be, is what keeps people alive. Money is what drove this fictional everyday Kyle, to build a bomb and take hostages on live TV, even if the amount in question might seem small to someone more fortunate.
While this character might be the imaginings of a Hollywood screenwriter, the essence of his story is very much real.
This past weekend, the Sunday Times reported that British scientists found that up to 40 000 more suicide attempts might have been the result of the recession of 2008.
According to Psychology Today, researchers concluded the likelihood of having a mental health problem is three times higher among people who have debt. Depression, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders are among the common mental illnesses people in debt experience.
A report from the San Francisco Federal Reserve in America found that people who earn 10% less than their neighbours, are 4.5% more likely to commit suicide.
As you might expect, in Money Monster the masses that are tuned in to watch the drama unfold with the live TV hostage situation, quickly begin to sympathise with Kyle. Without a single piece of dialogue from the millions watching the in-movie TV show, we know that they understand where Kyle is coming from.
This is the key message from the movie and one that we often emphasise at Counting Coins. Money problems can be stressful; they can lead to mental problems, health problems and relationship problems. Desperate times are often the root of crime. Poverty, unemployment, debt and financial stress create broken people. We need to fix this!
To do this, we must fight the shame that comes with financial struggles. To fight the shame, we need to open up the conversation. We need more honest, open, judgement-free conversations about money. We should talk about money with our kids, our colleagues, our friends and family. We should talk about money with our employees and in our schools. We need leaders who are willing to talk about money in ways that everyone understands.
Only when we break the taboo surrounding “money talk”, will money stop claiming victims.