More Is More： Making Sense ofAmerica's Wealth Obsession
Nick Glass 迈克尔·格林
It's a Fourth of July party in 1993. An 18-year-old girl， lost in thought， sits by an aquamarine swimming pool near Los Angeles. A pristine white surgical bandage is slapped across her face， from eyebrow to upper lip. Her name is Lindsey.
“I had wanted to get my nose done since I was twelve，” she reflects. Most of her school friends had already had plastic surgery - breasts reduced or enlarged， fat removed， noses done. We can see from the photograph Lindsey has finally just got her heart's desire.
The Californian photojournalist Lauren Greenfield， who captured this scene， has been documenting the American dream in its all permutations for the last 25 years or so. With a workaholic's obsession， she has become fascinated by wealth and fame and by what she calls “the influence of affluence” - how people try to ape the way the rich live.
Her output has been prodigious: some 300 photo essays for magazines and newspapers across the extremes of consumer culture: “bling， celebrity and narcissism.”
Her archive of over half a million photos has now been condensed into 600 images in “Generation Wealth.”
It seems timely. As Greenfield notes dryly in her introduction， “We now live in a society where our highest public servant is a real-estate developer and reality TV star who lives in a penthouse on the sixty-sixth floor emblazoned with his name and decorated in a Louis XIV style， with ceilings painted with 24-karat gold， marble walls， and Corinthian columns.”
Greenfield says that it wasn't until the financial crash in 2008 that she realized the underlying theme of her work.
“We had lost our moral compass and were partying on the deck of the Titanic，” she says.
Everyone wants a better body， better clothes， a better car， a bigger house， a swimming pool and to live in a gated community in the sunshine of California， Las Vegas and Florida.
A 2017 report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeon revealed that Americans spent $16.4 billion on cosmetic plastic surgery in 2016， up from $9.4 billion in 2005. According to the Census Bureau， in the space of 30 years - 1983 to 2013 - the average American home has expanded from 1，725 square feet to 2，598 square feet， with national mortgage debt totaling $8.63 trillion as of March 31， 2017， according to the Federal Reserve.
“Generation Wealth” is also littered with objects of desire: a dust-coated Chrysler Crossfire sports car abandoned at Dubai Airport after the owner apparently fled， a limited edition purse encrusted with Swarovski crystals in the shape of a carton full of McDonald's fries， and a solid gold toilet in a jewelery store in Hong Kong. This is a loo that people queue to see， apparently in their thousands， and even occasionally use. They like to sit on the throne and take selfies.
I ended our interview by asking Greenfield how widespread she thinks the culture of “generation wealth” has become.
“The reality is right in front of us，” came the blunt reply.