Greenfield analyzes the new American Dream
Documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield spent her career attempting to understand America’s obsession with wealth and status. I was first introduced to Greenfield through her 2012 documentary “Queen of Versailles,” which followed the Siegel timeshare tycoon family attempting to build the largest home in America. The film turns into a riches to rags story as they ultimately face bankruptcy in the construction process. “Queen of Versailles” and other films of Greenfields, like “Thin,” which follows four teenagers and their battles with eating disorders, all share a common denominator: why do we as a society obsess over materialism or our outward display? Greenfield attempts to get to the root of that common thread and expose it in her 2018 documentary, “Generation Wealth.”
“Generation Wealth” introduces the viewer to an assortment of characters, all of whom share an obsession with wealth and status. We meet cigar-puffing Florian Homm, the German businessman and investment banker who frequently dodges the FBI on charges of fraud; a “Toddlers and Tiaras” star; adult film actress and ex-girlfriend of Charlie Sheen Kacey Jordan; Suzanne, the work-obsessed New York City hedge fund executive; and, of course, the many stiff faces of one-too-many plastic surgeries.
Throughout these narratives, Greenfield explores layering sectors that display America’s toxic materialism — its general obsession with wealth, the commodification of the female body, the lengths to which we go to gain and display our acquired wealth and more. Indeed, many of these interviewees have been interviewed by Greenfield for her earlier work, revisited for the sake of the documentary. The documentary is then almost 25 years in the making and an overarching collection of Greenfield’s work. Such a filmmaking feat is worthy of praise, and the longevity of the project further legitimizes its ideas.
The film argues that the American Dream has changed from a righteous desire to work …