Essay on ‘Park Avenue Money Power and the American Dream’: Movie Analysis

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We’ve all heard studies claiming that “Money can’t buy happiness.” Google it and 138,000,000 results pop up. But what’s harder to believe than a scientist who says “money can’t make you happy”?

When it’s coming from a rich person!

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If a billionaire told you that money can’t buy happiness, we’d all be thinking the same thing.

“Who are you kidding?”

That’s why I’m here, as a normal person to tell you exactly that.

Somewhere in my late teens, I got it in my head that to be successful you needed to be a moneybag. I guess, in a way I wanted to repay my family. I was born into an immigrant family so we didn’t have much growing up. My parents would always support me and my sister although they went into debt.

When I finished uni, I became super money driven. I was living on my own terms and earned myself $45K a year but it still wasn’t enough for me. I said yes to every opportunity and found myself madly pursuing money. What started as good motives to make $$ turned into greed. After four years of going through this constant cycle, I still felt empty.

Unfortunately, this is all too common in popular culture today. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream directed by Alex Gibney have become the epitomes of greed and its repercussions.

Fitzgerald paints a stark image of a decaying class system in the gaudy grotesques of pre-depression America, Gatsby holds the wealth Bill Gates could only dream of, but it pales into insignificance in the eyes of East Eggers like Tom and Daisy Buchanan just because Gatsby is from the less glitzy of the two Eggs, West Egg.

Back at the time, I was chasing money. I woke up at 5 every morning and worked until I went to bed. I snapped at my parents all the time. Didn’t have time to see my friends. In fact, I was drifting further and further away from the people I loved.

Chasing money comes at the expense of losing true friendships. Behind the gates of 740 Park Avenue, Koch and company only “donate” to political candidates, people who can help overfill their already exploding piggy banks. It takes a really thick-skinned individual to take on a job there too. The former doorman of the building recalls how he loaded David Koch’s van every week, only to have stones thrown at him by the hot-headed tycoon.

Fitzgerald also uses The Valley of Ashes between West Egg and New York City to symbolize how the uninhibited pursuit of wealth destroys moral values. Gatsby has been goo-goo-eyed over Daisy since his early days as a soldier. But of course, he isn’t the only one. So, how does Daisy choose from her chasers? Although she “loves” Gatsby, she marries the most wealthy, most unpleasant of them all, Tom Buchanan because he showers her with jewelry and riches. But Gatsby remains undeterred, continuing his relentless pursuit of the married woman. Gatsby turns to crime and breaks the law as his goal of winning Daisy’s “love” becomes his philosophy in life. Similarly, Myrtle’s willing to become a serial adulterer because Tom screams money and materialistic privileges.

Decades later, society still hasn’t learned its lesson. Moral values continue to crumble as the greedy financial titans of 740 Park Avenue continue their corrupt tactics. The bridge between the two Park Avenues symbolizes the barrier which stops the poor from crossing. The disparity between Manhattan and South Bronx is as clear as day. The wealthy residents of Manhattan continue hogging all the cash, while the residents of the South Bronx struggle just to make ends meet. Gibney reveals the true colors of the Manhattaners and it ain’t pretty. Wealthy businessmen like Steve Schwarzman dangle around their money like bait, manipulating politicians who are just as desperate for money. Well…what a surprise. These businessmen sure are stingy, especially considering the fact that they already pay taxes lower than your parents’ grocery bills.

Do you know those “get out of jail free cards” in Monopoly? As much as we’d all love these cards, you gotta admit the injustice of it all…just think, why should a serial killer be let off the loose because of a card? But these days, as long as you’ve got the big bucks, you could practically get away with murder. Mr. Schwarzman and his partners in crime have been caught red-handed lobbying politicians, but they turn a blind eye to the situation while the poor citizens of South Bronx continue to be victims of a system designed by the residents of 740 Park Avenue.

This is also the attitude accepted in the Roaring 20s. After (spoiler alert!) Daisy runs over Myrtle, and Tom and Daisy escape and allows Gatsby to take the blame for Myrtle’s death.

On the surface, money seems to be the answer to everything. I admit that at some point I too thought, “If I could just make more…then my problems would all disappear.”

But as the Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo’ money, Mo’ problems.”

The biggest riggers in the State have launched an “Americans for Prosperity” program, claiming they are fighting to give everyone equal chance at a better life. Their obsession for money is so deep-rooted that they are blind to the suffering they are bringing to the ingenuous of Park Avenue, South Bronx.

In The Great Gatsby, the characters are so entrenched in their glamorous lifestyles that it becomes what defines a good life. Gatsby’s renowned for hosting the flashiest parties. But the partygoers couldn’t care less about their host. Despite the many social “connections” Gatsby had during his lifetime, they all prove meaningless and insincere. After Gatsby’s death, he is completely forgotten by his “friends” and “business partners.” No one but a few servants, his father, and Nick go to his funeral.

So, you see, every choice you make in life significantly impacts your life and the people around you.

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