Generation Wealth


Generation Wealth

If you’ve not seen the movie, Generation Wealth, written and directed by photographer and filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield (released July 20, 2018) then I highly recommend you do so now (available through Amazon Prime).  The opening night feature at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, the film examines our wealth-obsessed world and the pursuit of the idea that only power and riches will make us happy.  If we want to reach the happiness pinnacle, we can’t stop until we’ve decimated the competition and gotten to the top of the heap — despite what we might have to give up along the way.

But it’s not just that, i.e., the idea that extreme wealth is bad and ultimately destroys the people who pursue it to the exclusion of all else.  It’s something more insidious, something that permeates our culture with a choke hold so extreme it won’t let go.  It’s the tenet of American idealism, that individual actions in pursuit of a dream are okay no matter the consequences.  You have a right to chase your dream even if it’s to the detriment of everyone and everything around you, including the environment — okay, okay, I know; always the environment — because Americans are individuals, dammit, and this country was built for the rugged individualist. 

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, eh?  Somehow I don’t think the Founding Fathers envisioned it would turn out quite this way:  capitalism and corporate greed run amok, narcissism in the extreme, politicians who are bought and paid for, families wrecked from the fallout of caring more about the money than the individual lives it supports, all this so some guy, or gal, can wear the richest in the world crown.  I don’t get it myself, all that energy spent amassing wealth when there are so many more important issues in the world that we could be turning our time and attention to, but I guess that’s why I’m not jetting around the world on a private plane.

Generation Wealth is a bit all over the place as it was 25 years in the making, and 25 years ago, Greenfield had no idea she’d be making it.  Greenfield grew up in Venice beach, a few doors down from the coveted 90210 zip code — as in, Beverly Hills 90210  surrounded by people with wealth and opulence to spare, the daughter of two Harvard educated parents, her mother an anthropologist and her father a professor — and even with that kind of street cred she felt poor — a place where celebrity was on display 24/7, where kids grew up in unsupervised and very adult-oriented households, and where fame and fortune were de rigueur, but at a huge cost to the spirit of community and the soul of the individual, and, I’ll posit, the world.  Greenfield chronicled all of it for 25 years:  lavishness and luxury, debt and despair, drug abuse, self-rearing kids, prostitutes, plastic surgeon junkies, it’s all on display here.  Greenfield gave up a few things of her own in pursuit of her own dream, her career, but I’ll let her tell you that bit of the story.

Generation Wealth — or unconscious wealth as I like to call it — is a mixed bag of nuts, but just like when you eat too many and feel a little nauseated afterwords, the extreme affluence and unaccountability on display may also make you queasy, but it’s most definitely a film worth seeing.

pam lazos 1.26.20

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
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30 Responses to Generation Wealth

  1. This sounds like a fantastic watch. I’ve requested it from the library!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nadine says:

    Very thoughtful review, Pam. “It’s the tenet of American idealism, that individual actions in pursuit of a dream are okay no matter the consequences.” I too feel this is the key issue here. With all the “dream bigger” commercial mindset abounding these days, it’s all too easy for people to forget what really matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hilarymb says:

    Hi Pam – it sounds ghastly … but greed, jealousy, envy all fuel the desire for more, over the decency of living life simply as … Donna mentions in her comment above. Why on earth do people crave everything at the expense of others … I would like to watch the film sometime – not sure when – but I’ll remember it. Thanks for the clips and for pointing out the film itself .. .Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ally Bean says:

    What a timely topic. Greed and cruelty in the name of self-interest makes me snarl. I’ve seen this affluence from afar and on a few occasions met people whose photos should be in the dictionary by the word ‘narcissism.’ Amoral people are out there and they’ve found their savior in The Donald, haven’t they? 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t get it either Pam. I worry sometimes about two of my grandchildren that are growing up in the very affluent Orange County CA. I haven’t seen them in six years so I have no idea how they view life, but I know their parents are all about keeping up with the rich and famous even though I don’t think they are themselves. It will be interesting this year when my grandson starts driving. Wonder what kind of car he will be driving? When I get my Amazon Prime back up I’ll have to watch that film.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cath says:

    Sounds like a powerful film, Pam.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pam, thanks for the review and recommendation. Like Pauline, I’m faint of heart, but it would be interesting to see the fallout of excessive wealth from an insider.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sounds quite fascinating actually Pam x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Pam. It’s mind-boggling to me that there are so many people who pursue wealth and possessions above all else. That just sounds so empty…. I try to ascribe to the maxim to “Live simply so others can simply live.” It causes some to roll their eyes and shake their heads.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ken Dowell says:

    Not flying around the world on a private jet either, it sounds like a film I’d appreciate, however infuriating.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve saved the videos to watch later Pam – but I don’t think I could stomach watching the show…….. While the over the top pursuit of riches and opulence is mainly an American thing it has rubbed off and influenced some parts of our society too. It’s like white supremacism it just sneaks in and lays waste to the rights of others.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. mistermuse says:

    The greed, narcissism, etc. described in this post has even further ramifications. I would suggest that such a mindset played a part in the election and support of “make America great again” Donald Trump, whose P.T. Barnum-like winning over of gullible voters has made a virtue of the sins enumerated in your third paragraph.

    Liked by 2 people

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