The age of “fake it til you make it” is upon us. The “Bling Culture” is about of looking rich if you are not. A substitution quick fix as a result of income inequality, lack of access to a better life so people show off. In your face consumption means being humble is old fashion, today it is all about the over the top lifestyle.
Documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield tackles modern world values from beauty, gender, and consumerism in her new work Generation Wealth.
The last years of the Roman Empire were decadent. You see in the movie “ I think you have to have a very bad crash in order to wake up” states Greenfield. There is more hope in the movie than in the my book, which feels like we are dancing on the deck of the Titanic but in the film I feel people are waking up, making choices.
“The Kim Kardashian Effect” of middle class women becoming prostitute and porn stars to gain quick access to money is now acceptable. In one generation what was once considered “bad taste” can be considered “good taste”. The value of hard work is lost.
A question I asked at the interview
How do you balance being a critic and being a participant?
My work has come from this place. I studied visual anthropology at Harvard. I have always thrived and able to do my work being on this line as an outsider and insider, working for “W” and “Harpers Bazaar”. I lived in the eye of the storm. Working for these publications gave me access.
Being from a Middle class family but I sometimes desired what the rich LA kids had, even thought I had all that I needed. It made me introspective about the source of the desire. My subjects in the film are like this.
In the film, the 13 year, Adam, his family rented the The Whiskey A GO GO on Sunset Blvd with go go girls for his party. They spent $50.000. He says, “you have to spend this money or you are S*it out of luck!” Then he says “money ruins kids”. He has that insight but is a part of the process.
This is not a story of evil rich people but a story of how all of us are a part of this complicity, the aspiration. Materialism, wealth, theses are ingredients of the modern dream. While watching I had a sad realization. I recognized a lot behavior traits but I know none of the people on screen.
Generation Wealth is well produced, at times, a sad reflection of who or what we are desperately grabbing for the trappings of splendor. There are no new questions raised in the documentary because the same ones have been around since Reagan’s Neo Liberal agenda. What Greenfield shows are the effects of a doctrine based on having it all. Are we willing participants, witnesses? When do the effects of the drug end? While not thought provoking, it makes you think.
Generation Wealth was screened in the Panorama Section at the Berlinale in February 2018.
Check selected local cinemas for the Amazon Studios release.
Sponsored by Canon Camera and Pringle of Scotland.