McMansions are symbols of “the excess of greed”

An interesting way the term McMansion is sometimes used is to see such houses as symbols for some larger issue in our culture. This usage is illustrated in a documentary to be shown next week in Vancouver:

Vancouver’s treasury of modern architecture is the subject of Coast Modern, by Michael Bernard and Gavin Froome (May 8, 7 p.m., Vancity Theatre).

“Coast Modern is an exceptionally beautiful film,” says Woodend. “I have a bit of a yen for modernist architecture, just because it’s so exquisite, and it’s one of those films [that takes] house porn on a whole new level.

“Although, to give it credit, it looks at architecture as a manifestation of social values. [It has] Douglas Coupland weighing in on McMansions, and how they’re sort of this travesty, not just in architectural terms, but as an embodiment of cultural and social values, the excess of greed that has come out of the last 10 years and shown up in brick and mortar.

“In that regard it’s pretty thoughtful, it really uses architecture as a means to talk about culture.”

From this point of view, houses are not just things to be purchased by individual buyers. Rather, homes and their architecture represent broader trends in society. McMansions can then be viewed as symbols of excess, products of an era where people consumed more than they needed with impunity. Presumably smaller homes indicate (whether they are tiny or “not-so-big“) fighting back against this culture of excess.

Of course, labeling a home as a McMansion then does the job of pointing out the excess. If you live in such a home that acquires this label, do you try to respond that the home really isn’t that excessive? Or perhaps that it is green enough (perhaps a tactic of celebrities)?

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