America, the land of the plenty. A place where pilgrims voyaged to make new and better lives for themselves. A nation which attracted immigration from around the world with the promise of untold riches and opportunity. Today, that influx still continues, but whilst the motivation remains the same, what is meant by the American Dream has intrinsically shifted. Social mobility and meritocratic improvement has largely disappeared. In its place, a lust for fame and fortune without having to put in the hard work or being necessarily intelligent, talented or well-educated.
Whilst the USA is the beacon of avarice, the rest of the world isn’t far behind; with Russia and China following hot on its heels. In Lauren Greenfield’s new documentary Generation Wealth, she trawls back through twenty-five years of her career as a photographer and film-maker, looking at how the world has changed since she began documenting modern life. She speaks to a menagerie of weird and wonderful people who will do absolutely anything for money and status.
Generation Wealth catches up with some of the characters she’s previously documented, seeing how their lives have changed. Today, people are looking for short cuts and prepared to do absolutely anything to get what they want. The obsession is like a drug and this drive is an addiction which Greenfield falls foul of herself. As a society, we lost our way somewhere down the line. This self-destruction manifests itself in many different forms. Whilst Generation Wealth suffers from a lack of focus at times, it’s a well-made and thought-provoking insight into our strange new world.
Generation Wealth is in cinemas and on demand from 20 July.