Greed Meets the Grotesque in Lauren Greenfield’s “Generation Wealth”

Greed is not good. Or at least that seems to be the thrust of Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth, a wide-ranging exhibition of the uglier side of wealth, currently on display at the International Center of Photography. With images of excess that border on the grotesque, Greenfield helps subvert illusions of store-bought happiness, revealing a portion of the one percent as jaded, pathetic, and emotionally stunted by ennui. Her work examines shameless consumerism in America and beyond, from the adolescence of Hollywood youth to the ritzy lives of Russian oligarchs. As a work of anthropology, Greenfield captures a period of American history that is equally fascinating and contemptible. Where our relentless pursuit of perfection meets scientific method, and the desire to give our children a fabulous childhood backfires cartoonishly. If you’re constantly tormented by the desire to accumulate wealth, Greenfield’s enlightening peek over the (very high, possibly gilded) fence into the neighbor’s yard is liberating.

Now to address this backswing:

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The subject of this photo is the pinnacle of an apparent lack of self-awareness, and as such, offers the perfect point of departure for our discussion of Greenfield’s work.

This golf enthusiast had the wherewithal to remove her black sun hat, which would be better suited for the local polo grounds anyhow, but decided to leave on her sunglasses indoors. This is an egregious oversight in terms of function and fashion sensibility, with the purple specs completely obscuring her vision, and throwing a spanner in the funereal color scheme.

It’s also worth noting that skirts don’t meet the dress code at low-rate public courses, let alone one of the three $100,000 courses she plays at, according to the excerpt that accompanies the photo. Her footwear is also a huge concern. If she doesn’t completely destroy/aerate the putting greens with those heels, then at the least, she’ll have a miserable time making it in and out of the sand trap.

(I’ll pause a moment to let that imagery sink in…)


Upon further inspection, it seems that at least some of her newfound wealth has been put toward decent lessons. Here’s a diagram:


  1. Too much bend in the right elbow.
  2. Slight bend in the hip. This actually looks OK.
  3. Good foot position, slight bend in the knee.
  4. Club shaft should be brought back past the head until parallel with the ground.

It seems like money CAN buy a golf swing, but nobody’s ever been happy playing golf anyway.


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