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Sorta Random Sunday: Generation Wealth

As I write this, it is a Sunday morning and I just finished watched the documentary Generation Wealth on Amazon Prime.

I came to start watching this as I was in a lull with no real shows to watch late at night. I scrolled through and the name caught my attention so I put it. My intention or maybe rather prediction was that I would watch for a few minutes and then fall asleep. But it really ended up holding my attention.

generation wealth

So, here I am writing about it…

What is Generation Wealth?

Generation Wealth is, like I said, a documentary. It was created by a photo-journalist/anthropologist named Lauren Greenfield. And it essentially is a culmination of 25 years of her work. Work that she did not always recognize as cohesive. However a retrospective look back over her career led her to the realization that it all was connected.

I don’t want to give the whole thing away because it is a worthwhile 90ish minute watch.

However, the story begins with Lauren introducing some of her earliest work, documenting the lives of uber rich LA teens in the ’90s. This was the world in which she grew up. But also one that she never felt like she quite fit in as a middle class observer in this world when she was a teen.

The film then neatly swerves on covering our culture’s obsession with money, greed, and wealth. Mixed in are absurd examples from a now-exiled hedge fund founder, porn star, limo drivers, an ex-rapper, and washed up former Cali high schoolers living in the past.

How is this all treated in the documentary?

It would be easy to leave these ridiculous examples with no commentary. But that would risk this become almost exhibitionist. Conversely, adding too much academic or personal commentary risks being preachy. In this, Greenfield does a great job toeing the line.

A scholar mixes in his opinions on the state of our culture and the worldwide cabalist empire in an engaging manner.

However, the best commentary comes from Greenfield herself as well as her family, including her anthropologist mother and impressively attune children. These lead to a revelation that perhaps Greenfield – and by extension us as the viewers – are not so different at the root from those we are judging.

Hitting close to home

Again, without giving away the bag, two particular revelations hit home for me.

The first is the same “ah-ha” that hits Greenfield. All of her subjects have some obsession that has been taken to unhealthy extremes – whether communization of the body or extreme greed.

However, she recognizes an unhealthy obsessions with work. Something I can certainly relate too…

There is also a woman who essentially mortgaged her life for a complete plastic surgery makeover. Only to find herself similarly unhappy, in more money trouble, and losing her family.

As a plastic surgeon myself this struck a nerve…I do believe that aesthetic surgery can be very positive, but also can become an obsession. Discerning these differences is so important for us as a specialty.

The final message

So, what kind of conclusion does Generation Wealth arrive at? Well, like any good film, it leaves you making your own conclusions without shoving their opinion in your face.

It is very interesting to see pretty much all of the main characters complete a full arc in their story…starting from some humble beginning and striving to achieve great wealth and fame only to realize it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be and return to simpler principles – or wish they could if it is too late.

It’s worth checking out.

Here are some posts that immediately came to my mind watching the documentary:

What do you think? Have you seen Generation Wealth? What did you think? Has greed consumed our culture? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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