In Salò, a group of wealthy white libertines lock themselves in a castle and, borrowing from the assembly-line playbook, partake in the most delectable and unspeakable pleasures to the detriment of the victims they brought along for the ride. Foreclosed from the outside world, yet importing its very model of sadistic exploitation, these privileged men could only scoff at the plight of the disadvantaged masses, were they able or willing to acknowledge it.
It turns out that the mechanics of the Chicago stock exchange and the culture it spawns, as depicted by Floored, follow a disturbingly similar script as that brought to life at the Marquis De Sade’s—and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s—Château de Silling. A vile culture of status-quo-inducing greed is exposed, the stuff that America is made of, and reaching severe heights: me, me, me, and more me. These men (with the token white lady and black suit) go after money with the kind of apolitical, indecent, and ruthless self-indulgence akin to the drug junkie willing to steal or kill to get his fix—the kind of egotistical compulsion that necessarily involves living as though the self bore no responsibility to anything that may be happening outside those cash-making walls.
The documentary interviews current and former floor traders as they cling on to the stock exchange floor with a mix of nostalgia, love, hate, and techno-phobia. Print isn’t the only industry to which new technology is bringing long, painful deaths. Computer screens and hyper-speed data are doing to the physicality of the trade floor what Craigslist did to the gay club dance floor, turning it into a near obsolete component to a now virtually enabled economy. Some traders resent the loss of that tangible battleground likening virtual trading to watching a sports game without ever taking one’s eyes off of the scoreboard. But it just seems as though they have all come terrifyingly closer to the realization that being machine-like has always been an inherent part of the job.
If watching cocky white men puffing their cigars inside their palatial pads as they brag about having fucked a Playmate once (“Money gets you super chicks,” one advises) and show off their collection of taxidermied African elephants isn’t really your thing, you may want to skip this one. Although you do learn that the floor is separated in cliques (the Irish, the Italians, the Jews), and that getting occasionally spat on comes with the territory (an overcrowded night at the Roxy may not have been that much different after all), it just doesn’t seem like explaining the stock-exchange logic in simple terms is humanly possible (“market liquidity” anyone?). Floored also stops its narrative of vulgar careerism when the recent financial collapse begins. Which might make diegetic sense, but for today’s temporal standards, it feels a little like watching an exposé on the World Wide Web that stops at the burst of the dot-com bubble.