Sunday, June 10, 2012

More from Lauren Greenfield

The work of Lauren Greenfield that we discussed in class last week, including her piece for the New York Times, 'Showcase: Dubai's Improbable Tale,' provided an interesting discussion about the effects of photojournalism as a recognized form of journalism. In her work, Greenfield typically portrays the wealthy, elite members of a given society, focusing on their lifestyles and opportunities. I personally think it's most effective for a photojournalist reporting on the wealthy, to also offer a counterpoint - showing images of the other side of the spectrum.

In another piece she did for the NYT, Greenfield examines the effects of money and material wealth on kids in Los Angeles. The documentary she put together, 'Kids + Money,' proves itself very effective because both sides of the issue are explored. She talks to Alyssa and Gabby, both 16 years old, who love shopping, and find that spending four digits on well-made items is acceptable. They love waxing their eyebrows, because it 'feels good.' These girls come from a wealthy family, and use their wealth to enhance a public social image of themselves. These girls clearly seem embarrassed by some of their actions, but maintain that its a social norm. On the other hand, Greenfield interviews 17-year-old Zoie, who lives in the same bedroom as her parents - Zoie in a lofted bed, her parents in a queen size bed at the foot of her ladder. Cohabiting in the same space makes privacy a bit difficult in their family's cozy apartment. But Zoie and her mom don't mind; they find each other's presence familiar and entertaining.

These drastically two different viewpoints and lifestyles that Greenfield depicted in her film make it that much more effective. If either side existed without the other in this documentary, the viewer wouldn't get the full picture. For instance, Greenfield could speak of wealth amongst teens in LA, but seeing what it's like to not be wealthy and in the same region and age group, gives her story more meaning, depth, and credibility. Viewers are able to grasp a better understanding of what Greenfield is trying to get at with her documentary by seeing all sides. Despite Greenfield's tendency to report on and investigate the wealthier side of various lifestyles, she recognizes the need of the 'other' and its role in creating a well-rounded story.

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