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As Janwilliem Van de Wetering states in ‘Just a Corpse at Twilight’, “Greed is a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough” (2003, p.118). Greed is the insatiable desire to possess more than we need or deserve, especially concerning material wealth, in other words, it is a dangerous sin. Yet, it is instilled in many of us still in today’s society, having no limits or shame and definitely not for the better. This flaw in human nature forces us to be under the influence that money can buy happiness and even political power. While many like to see the best in humans, films and novels are cleverly skilled at revealing the worst of humanity and depicting a mirror reflection of our society. That’s why we enjoy them so much. Greed is destructive and brings out the worst of human nature, which is pointed out through the ideologies set and pivotal characters within various works of art.

Alex Gibney, the focaliser of the 2012 documentary ‘Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream’ exposes the depraved society through the inequality of America through the tale of two cities in one. 740 Park Avenue, Manhattan, is one of the most exclusive addresses in the world and is home to the top 1% of 1% of the richest Americans. Gibney argues that over the past 30 years, CEO billionaires have selfishly bought up the whole political system just to rig it in their favor. Furthermore, Gibney explores how money is weaponized to buy results. At the beginning of the documentary, the board game Monopoly is used to portray the idea that everyone has an equal opportunity, starting with the same amount of money and the same chances to succeed, and that winning is a mix of luck and skill true to the American Dream. It is later revealed that this is not the case in reality; rules have already been decided and the game has been rigged. A social experiment using the rigged version of Monopoly was set up to understand the psychology of the advantaged and the disadvantaged and link this ideology to real life. The advantaged players received more money, moved around the board quicker, and therefore had more opportunities available to them. The player on the low end, however, had definitively no chance of winning with what they were given. Even in an openly rigged game, the behavior of the privileged players dramatically changed as they inevitably exhibited a sense of entitlement gobbling up more of the carefully placed pretzels. This trivial display was none other than the psychology of believing that they deserved to win. The fact that they felt the need to increase their chances of winning when they were already rigged to win was the saddest part. As if sparing a single note would immediately threaten any chances of winning, they showed no concern for the misfortune of the poor player. This ideology stemmed from a family fun board game that accurately depicts how humans make sense of advantages, losing their sympathy traits and becoming entitled. They believe they are more deserving as a result, they continue to take but never give, as if they never have enough.

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The destruction of greed and how it brings out the worst in human nature is also demonstrated through the film’s pivotal character. Billionaire Stephen Schwarzman is especially targeted during this film for his excessive and careless spending: a replica of his apartment built in a hotel, 25 Christmas trees, one in each room, just for one night. His most ridiculous spending would have to be his billionaire purchase of an entire political system. Schwarzman takes advantage of desperate politicians, buys their integrity, and then rigs the entire system by investing in policies like the carried tax provisions that are only favorable to the rich. The evidence and sources, including recordings of conversations sought out by Gibney, confirm it all, money and power overpower democracy. While the ultra-rich devilishly enjoy their precedented prosperity from the corrupted system that they increasingly control, it is everyone else, the 99% of the country, who are suffering severely once again because of other people’s selfish desires. It just goes to show that going greed-eyed has gotten the better of people like Steve Schwarzman, causing them to value wealth, status, and power over humanity and benevolence.

At the end of the day, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While the billionaires in Park Avenue are gaining wealth and power over rigging the political system, they’ve started a cycle of unprecedented inequality. Consequently, money is being wrongfully stolen from those on the other side and each year more and more are forced into poverty. At the end of the day, we have to pay for their actions. In our current, we find ourselves experiencing the repercussions of these acts of greed. Capitalism, which relies on greed, is prevalent in modern society as it allows for economic growth. However, it has recently been discovered that capitalism has failed the world because of its harmful impact on the planet. The world is now faced with the adversity of leading our future generations to have to clean up our mess as we are already finding ourselves in the middle of this accelerating crisis of climate change. Greed has led us nowhere except to our worst forms.

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