The Craig Gillespie directorial venture Dumb Money is a prime example of how a movie about characters involved in technical stuff should be made. Based on the book The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich, the 2023 film is the story of a few retail investors who began to buy stocks of a video game store called GameStop and how that impacted the billion-dollar hedge fund managers who made their money primarily through ‘short selling’. The performances are great, and the pacing, the cinematography, and the overall setting surely remind one of David Fincher’s The Social Network. Funny that this film is based on a book with almost the same name! The casting is spot on, and with a great background score, the movie creates an atmosphere where this big fish vs. little fish fight really becomes palpable, even though the jargon might go over our heads.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
There are a lot of players in this film, which is basically about the stock market, where the rich have an upper hand, as in almost all other spheres of life. But every once in a while, there comes a man who challenges the system. In this film, that man is Keith Gill, aka Roaring Kitty, as he was known on YouTube. Keith grew interested in GameStop’s stock, and while hedge fund managers like Gabriel Plotkin, founder of Melvin Capital, planned on short selling GameStop’s stock, Keith Gill’s adamance over holding that random stock made people show sudden interest in it, as if it were worth millions. And the next thing you know, people started to hold the stock, and its price went up, and the whole case became one of the biggest cases of the ‘short squeeze’ ever known.
Why Did Keith Buy GameStop Stock?
Keith, a family man, basically worked two jobs. His day job didn’t get him the notoriety that the Reddit fans or the YouTube followers did. Having his balance sheet up as a background on his YouTube channel, he interested people by buying about 53000 dollars worth of GameStop stock. When asked by a friend, a Wall Street guy, as to why he had made the monumentally stupid decision to buy a penny stock, Keith acted offended and replied that GameStop WASN’T a penny stock. It was undervalued, and Wall Street was wrong. If Keith’s own admission is to be believed, he just ‘liked’ the stock and had been following it for a long time. He didn’t have the innermost details of how GameStop was functioning, but through the available data—legal, I might add—Keith honed in on this stock as he saw its potential. Whether or not he had any insider knowledge, that can’t really be known, but this bet paid off, and suddenly the GameStop stocks made a huge jump, which became a problem for Gabriel Plotkin, who started to lose billions on a daily basis.
How Did Gabriel Stay In The Game?
If a poor fellow loses his entire savings, nobody bails him out, but that’s exactly the privilege Gabriel had. He was waiting for people who were holding on to the GameStop stock to sell any day so that the market value would go down and Gabriel could buy it back and make a profit. But through Roaring Kitty’s channel and the investment advice page of Wall Street Bets, people were forming trust among each other to hold the stock, no matter what. There was a consensus that fed people the idea that the stock price would keep rising and nobody would sell. This meant that Gabriel was facing huge losses, but he was given a loan by other billionaires such as Steve Cohen and Ken Griffin. Gabriel was getting crushed by the short squeeze as simple ordinary people, like Jenny Cambell the nurse, Marcos the GameStop store worker, the two students Harmony and Riri, and thousands of such ordinary folks, refused to sell the stock for a quick buck. Also, the case became of national importance when Vlad Tenev, CEO of the stock trading app ‘Robinhood,’ in a strange case of manipulation, shut down the option for people to buy more of GameStop’s stock.
Did Keith end up in prison?
Everybody at the very top, the 1 percent of the 1 percent, has plausible deniability in such matters. While its folks like Keith who fret the most, as the hammer might fall on them for having illegally influenced the public to disrupt the market. The protests began over Robinhood’s sudden restriction on GameStop’s ‘buy’ option. The entire thing seemed like a conspiracy, as Vlad had ties with Ken Griffin, who in turn had bailed out Gabriel. Now, people who wanted to buy the stocks had to wait for the restriction to be lifted. The issue of fair play became a hot topic, and a Congressional hearing was commissioned to look into the biggest short squeeze in recent memory.
The case was really about spontaneous cooperation versus manipulated alliances. The people at the very top were colluding with each other to mitigate the effects of the short squeeze as much as possible, while Keith at the bottom rung of the ladder wasn’t selling the stocks when he could easily have done so and become a millionaire. He had become the beacon of hope for Jenny, Marcos, Harmony, Riri, and others. If he wasn’t selling, neither were they. The big men at the top did everything to break this trust, as they shut down Wall Street Bets, as if to make people panic and sell their stock, on the suspicion that perhaps Keith was selling as well. There was a little hiccup in between, but trust prevailed, and people held on to their stocks.
In the Congressional hearing, Ken Griffin completely denied having anything to do with Vlad’s decision to restrict the buy option on the Robinhood app, but later some WhatsApp messages proved that there was communication regarding the issue; however, the case was later dismissed by the court. As for Keith, he lost his job and was under immense pressure to offer a squeaky clean front to members of the Congressional committee, who grilled him later on why he was so hell-bent on buying GameStop’s stocks, when they clearly were viewed as penny stocks by the market. Keith had done nothing illegal, and this was conveyed by the confident speech in the end, where he backtracked his history as a retail investor, who is referred to as Dumb Money by wealthy Wall Street hedge fund managers like Gabriel.
Most retail investors lose money in the market, but this was a case when many made hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sure, there were some who went into a loss, such as Jenny, but they still showed faith in the stock to rise in value someday. Keith wasn’t imprisoned, and nothing could be proved against him. Gabriel’s Melvin Capital closed shop, and Ken Griffin and Vlad Tenev still face image problems, if not legal ones. Money is as much a logical matter to most people as it is emotional. People bet on Keith’s perseverance, and a movement started where the average Joe could make a statement by holding on to the stocks and being part of the short squeeze. In the end, though, it was proven that the rich had leverage, and they got away with most wrongdoings, which a random person would be imprisoned for. But there is hope that things will change.