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Well, at least they got the story right.

I'll call you back later, I have to save the Earth

I'll call you back later, I have to save the Earth

In about 100 minutes they managed to explain a very complicated series of rapid-fire events in an understandable, and even entertaining way. The writing was engaging. The acting was great. And so forth.

But ultimately, HBO’s “Too Big To Fail”… fails… because it punts on the whole “blame” issue.

Why with the blame? Well, put simply, so we don’t do this shit again.

Yes, yes yes. The bankers were greedy idiots: hard-headed and childish zillionaires who nearly brought down our entire economic system because they were dumb enough to believe (or to convince themselves) that “real estate only goes up”.

(I mean, really? Real Estate always goes up? Never down? Really? It still boggles my mind that this is even a question. Gah.)

“Too Big To Fail” does a decent job of casting that concept in it’s proper light: a pale illumination of disdain.

Where HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” falls short is ONLY blaming the bankers.

This is a huge, historical mistake.

TBTF completely dismisses Congress and multiple decades of terrible, terrible decisions on everything from Freddie & Fannie, to the FHA, to the CRA. Instead, the film chooses to serve up the “de-regulation” canard in whispy, vague intro scenes (are housing quotas “regulation” or “de-regulation”?).

What’s more, “TBTF” completely lets consumers (us) off the hook.

In this case it took THREE to tango: 1) The greedy, bankers 2) the maybe-well-intentioned but ultimately bumbling and hurtful bureaucrats who first incentivized, and supported those bankers, and 3) the millions of willing homeowners who were also greedy, and bumbling, and now are whining a lot.

We can argue “chicken-egg-chicken” here, but anyone who knows anything about this mess knows that, although the bankers deserve all the disdain we can muster, the other two major players deserve just as much attention.

But “Too Big To Fail” isn’t about those other 2 legs of the stool. It’s about the bankers, and their interaction w/ Paulson, and the slap-dash series of events that took place in the fall of 2008. So it’s understandable that it didn’t dive deep into, say, specific legislation, or some poor, dumb family caught trying to flip some houses.

If “Too Big To Fail” had stayed on topic, then it would be fine. But they didn’t.

Understandably, though, they did try to explain what was going on.

In one painfully obvious scene (putting the 4th wall in much peril) Paulson and his advisors “talk through” how the shit actually got into the fan.

It’s in this scene where “TBTF” willfully ignores The Government’s role in encouraging the build-up, and at the same time washes away any homeowners’ responsibility with the old “American Dream” chestnut; all in about 20 seconds of screen time. This is a damn shame, because they really didn’t have to say much here to be accurate. But instead they chose to perpetuate the fallacy that it was ALL the fault of the bankers.

(Remember kids: bankers are evil, politicians are just there to help, and we consumers can do no wrong.)

The problem here is that, it’s movies like this, about crises like this, that will actually help shape history. And it’s in this little scene that HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” essentially absolves the other 2 legs of the stool of any blame.

Unforgivable.

And what’s extra frustrating is “TBTF” came so darn close to being nonpartisan. All they had to do here, in this short little scene, was be ACCURATE.

= Accuracy FAIL.

Instead, they chose pitchforks and populism. And they just might get away with it because the Bankers are, in fact, pretty darn evil.

So, ultimately, “Too Big To Fail” ends up being a love letter to Hank Paulson. Does he deserve it? Maybe so. But along the way they missed a simple, and important opportunity to help educate the public about what really happened. And why.

It’s a near-miss. Which sucks, because it’s not a bad movie. In fact it’s a pretty darn good movie. But as a historical document, HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” will be doomed to repeats.

Yeah. I just wrote that.

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Well Bear Stearns, you did it.

Sure, there were a lot of greedy bastards in all of this, both on the bank side and the consumer side. But you, sirs, somehow managed to be such monumentally large douches, you’re actually taking the rest of the World down with you.

“Too Big To Fail” is the term that’s been bandied about.

And of this, I’m fairly sure you were well aware. I mean, why else would you ignore just about every news report for the last 3 years and somehow decide that actually *buying* these rotten loans was somehow actually a *good* idea?

Okay, you’re right. You were not alone. But you weren’t satisfied with merely being one of the pack. No sir ree.

Not only did you hold you nose and drink the tainted subprime tequila shot-for-shot with those other greedy douchebag banks, you chased it with a 4-foot bong of northern lights, a whippet, and then went streaking.

And before you say that’s the worst analogy you’ve ever read, let me clarify. …A little back story.

When I was in college there “the rich kids” and the “rest of us”. The rich kids were lucky enough, to have their parents pay for everything: school, food, housing, and even a little spending money for booze. Whereas the “rest of us” had to pay for everything ourselves, either through school loans, or if we were smart, actual jobs.

Well, somewhere between freshman and sophmore years, there was this rash of rich kids who went nuts with their parents’ money. They bought booze, drugs, music, clothes, and everything else you can think of like it was going out of style. Drunk with their first taste of freedom, and a little gratis spending money, they let loose.

And there was always that one kid who took even that way to far. And I knew one of those kids.

On top of the booze, drugs, clothes, music and what have you, this kid signed up for a bank account, and a credit card, and in a desperate attempt to gain some ephemeral small time fame, went and spent as much money as he possibly could buying booze, drugs, clothes and anything else he could think of, for anybody and everybody.

He threw parties. He took other kids on shopping sprees. And for about 3 full months, nobody on campus had to buy any beer or weed because he had it taken care of.

This lasted for several months, and by various accounts he owed well into the tens of thousands of dollars when it was all said and done. And when I asked him why the hell he did that… why, when his other friends were topping out at, say, $1,500… why he had to go so overboard?

It was simple, he explained. You see, those other kids ended up having to pay for their debt themselves, because it was relatively minor. He, on the other hand, was more conniving.

Or was it smart?

Since he had made his situation so bad, so untenable, he was in a unique position. And his parents were in an unenviable one. Since the level of damage was so great, their unfortunate choice was simple: either “teach their son a lesson”, and insist he pay for his monetary misdeeds, which would surely mean dropping out of school, a mountain of mind numbing legal problems, possible criminal charges, and assured bankruptcy? Or, in lieu of “ruining his life”… reluctantly bail him out, but with a stern talking to?

You know what happened.

And who can blame these parents for bailing out their son? As much as they probably wanted to see him suffer because of his idiocy, they couldn’t let his entire future get thrown out the window with the proverbial bath water. So they bit the bullet and did what they had to do.

This kid is Bear Stearns. And the Government is, once again, the parents.

And you thought that was a bad analogy.

So bravo Bear Stearns. Your plan worked perfectly. And only time will tell if you  threw the World’s entire future out the window with your dirty bathwater.

Okay that was a bad one.

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