This Friday, two radically different films found their way to theatres near you. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ and Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’. One is about the man who split the atom to stop the war, and the other is about capitalism in pink and the perils of perfection.
‘Which one will you see?’ became the trending question on social media, with people taking sides and claiming their film of choice would rule the box office. That’s a money lesson right there, I figured. Now that the weekend is upon us, and I have watched them both, let’s explore money lessons that we can learn from ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’.
The hype may not always be real.
‘It’s been shot in IMAX,’ they said, ‘Kodak even created a special film stock so that Nolan’s vision could seamlessly move from scenes shot in colour to black & white.’
Christopher Nolan has a penchant for shooting films in IMAX. And the trailer made the hair on the nape of your neck rise. The hype was real. On the other hand, people said, ‘Margot Robbie was that weirdly scary Harley Quinn! She’s Barbie? The quintessential goody two-shoes?’ and also, ‘Ryan Gosling looks odd with bleached hair!’ That opinion was false and misleading.
Whenever an issue goes public, you will hear lots about the company. This is backed by so and so, and supported by X or Y and so on. Opinion leaders will flood your timeline with hype. Do your homework before you invest in one or the other.
Just as some of us saw the wildly inflated price of tickets to ‘Oppenheimer’ in the city’s IMAX theatre and chose to watch it on other large screens near us, so can you look at the price of the offering and then decide how many shares you can afford. Or do what many have and wait for the hype to die down and the market correct itself and then invest.
And if you’re like me, watch both the films…
Don’t back down. Be a smart investor.
Initial reviews of ‘Barbie’ said that it was a movie that fell flat on its face and that it was too pink. Vietnam had banned the film because of some map in the film too! The American right-wing media was horrified by that map too!
Whenever I hear such statements the old Hindi film dialogue plays in my head: Shaant, gadadhari Bheem, shaant!
The film has turned out to be delightful, brilliantly written and offers you a fun 114-minute escape from our dowdy existence. It’s the same with some offerings that pop up on our investment calendar. As an investor, you must read all that you can about that stock you are eyeing. Find out everything for yourself. Sometimes when you listen to your own head and heart, you will pick a winner.
Your goals determine your wins.
J Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves were given a goal: to create a bomb before the Nazis did and stop the World War that had taken so many thousands of lives. By experimenting with heavy water, The Nazis were at least six months ahead. And in the film Nolan makes you forget to breathe because the good guys are at least six months behind.
If you don’t have any goals, then you will squander your resources investing randomly. Being an investor needs dedication. It’s your hard-earned money. Invest wisely. Make your money work harder than you think it can.
Work through the lows, the highs will come.
Barbie lives her happy life in Barbie land. In a dreamhouse, in a neighbourhood of other Barbies. Then an existential question hits her: What is dying?
Everything goes downhill for her after that! She realises that sad thoughts will turn her into an imperfect Barbie – with anxiety issues and tears and yes, cellulite! Will Barbie see what the real world is like?
When you become an investor, you will soon realise that the market that was booming for you (you made 19,000 in a day! your mutual fund portfolio looks nice and fat!). But then there are days when you feel like Ken, ignored by Barbie who seems to be partying with the girls. What you need to do is hold on to that portfolio, and wait the troughs out. Be a long-term investor.
Trust in your team.
The American government invests 2 billion dollars and diverts all other resources so that Oppenheimer can choose a team of physicists and men of Math to make the bomb possible. Oppenheimer knows that the scientists will not move to the middle of nowhere (Los Alamos is a desert land in New Mexico), so he makes sure that the army builds a little town so the families can move in too. He even ensures that the physicists who cannot move, work from the universities for the project.
In the Barbie movie too, when the many Kens take over Barbie land, Barbie has to get help from Weird Barbie, discontinued Sugar Daddy Ken and Earring Ken, Gloria and her daughter to bring order back to Barbie land. Only then can she bring order to her life.
What are both these films teaching us? As an investor, you must look after the team that makes your money work harder. Listen to the advice of the money manager, share information that you have with them. It’s like riding a tandem bike with Barbie: both must work in harmony so you can make progress!
And never forget, just as Oppenheimer went about choosing the right people to lead the different teams to make the bomb, you too must, based on your goal, decide on your capital allocation. Choose carefully the different instruments that will help you realise your money goals.
A little diplomacy goes a long way.
Oppenheimer does not intend to belittle Lewis Strauss, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission, but he does. Strauss does not forget and sabotages Oppenheimer’s career, putting him through a horrid hearing that breaks his reputation.
Barbie does not intend to ignore Ken, but her self-involvement and her sisterhood with other Barbies makes him feel belittled. So when Ken finds a chance, he betrays her.
When you’re making money, don’t belittle anyone. You never know who might hold a grudge and work to sabotage your chances of becoming even bigger.
Long term investments will prove to be valuable.
Mattel discontinued toys like pregnant Midge, Stacie, Video Girl Barbie, Growing Up Skipper, Magic Earring Ken, Sugar Daddy Ken and yes, Allan, because of various reasons. But anyone who collects toys knows that the value of these dolls in their original boxes is much more than weird Barbie (when you play too roughly with the dolls, you disfigure them!).
As a financially savvy person, you too should learn to recognise the value of different schemes, and discard those that just don’t work. Allan’s closeness to Ken wasn’t considered to be politically correct at that time, and he was discontinued. Today this move would be called out. Be careful. Be smart, and do not be swayed by trends and stay invested for the long term. Who knows, your Allan stock might be good in the long run!
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.